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One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created,
Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
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    Canonfire :: View topic - Monsters of Oerth
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    GreySage

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    Fri May 20, 2011 4:55 pm  
    Monsters of Oerth

    3rd edition monster books often had an annoying (to me) habit of including an "In Faerun" or "In Eberron" section explaining how the creature fits into those worlds. Because Greyhawk was consigned to "core" Limbo, they didn't bother to do the same for Oerth. So that's the purpose of this thread!

    Because there's no space limitations, I intend to go through every monster book, more or less in order, from the 1st edition Monster Manual I to the 4th edition Monster Manual 3, probably skipping creatures and books that are clearly not relevant to Oerth. Monsters that only appeared in adventures and issues of Dragon are also a possibility.

    Everyone else is encouraged to join in, explaining how certain creatures fit into their campaigns.

    So, first monster: the aerial servant.

    Aerial servants in the Flanaess
    The ritual for summoning aerial servants was discovered by ancient Baklunish priests long before the Invoked Devastation shattered their civilization. In those days they were a common encounter in the palaces of Baklunish nobles, placidly drifting through the halls and city streets in the service of one faction or another, or moving through the planes of existence to communicate with far-flung colonies of the Baklunish empire. Countless thousands went mad after the Invoked Devastation prevented them from completing their missions, transforming them from obedient servants to rogue monsters that devastated communities on their home plane and in some cases continue to wander the planes to this day, attacking everything in sight unless their ancient tasks can somehow be fulfilled. It was centuries before the spell was safe to cast again, and centuries more before survivors of the Baklunish and other spellcasters began using it with any frequency. The event poisoned relations between humanity and the djinn to some degree, and never again were humans as trusted by those elemental beings as they once were. Much of this history has been lost to humanity over the centuries, and modern spellcasters summon aerial servants without any idea why elemental beings frown on such practices and react negatively to humans caught using it. Of other mortal races, only the elves remember, and their use of the spell is notably more respectful than that of human clerics, and more respected in turn.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat May 21, 2011 2:39 am  

    That's a project and a half there, Rasgon.

    It's a truly brilliant idea and very thought provoking.

    The Aerial Servant above fits my campaign very well even though I'm not using D&D as a system anymore.

    Extra-Planar creatures are extremely rare IMC and your explanation gives a few good reasons why.

    Are you going to tackle "Fiend Folio"? That's got some real oddities.
    GreySage

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    Sat May 21, 2011 7:04 am  

    Ragr wrote:
    Are you going to tackle "Fiend Folio"? That's got some real oddities.


    Yup!
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    Sat May 21, 2011 9:31 am  

    Count on me to contribute. I almost never run monsters as printed; as I run almost exclusively in Oerth, that would make them Oerthian distinctions.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sat May 21, 2011 9:53 am  

    Cool project, rasgon, and a nice opening entry with the aerial servant!

    I had to come up with a background for goliaths in my 4e Sterich campaign after one of the players decided to run a goliath fighter.

    Goliaths in the Flanaess

    This race's origins lie in the conquests of the Arch-lich Vecna in the western Flanaess in the age before the Twin Cataclysms. During his conquest of the area that would become Sterich, most of the native Flan were subjugated except for a few stubborn clans who fled into the Joten Mountains. There, in the high valleys they found refuge among a tribe of stone giants who made their home in those peaks. Nothing was heard of them for the next two centuries until the pressures of the migrating Suloise and Oeridians into the Sheldomar Valley caused the once again free Flan tribes of Sterich to unite under the High King, Rhodri I. As well as the dwarf princes of the mountains he allied with a curious tribe of people dwelling in the Jotens who came to be called "goliaths." They were large and tall, bearing the features of both their human and stone giant ancestors. Unfortunately, the ambitions of the Sterish Flan and their wars against the giants of the Crystalmists drew the ire of the Frost Giant King who had long ruled his realm from the glacier at the headwaters of the Davish. Swelling his forces with clans of westerling hill giants who lived in the dry lands on the other side of the Crystalmists, the Frost Giant King drove many of the native stone giants and goliaths from the Jotens. These fled east, with most settling in the Lortmils and southern Yatils, though some went further east, finding work in the wars among the nascent Oeridian kingdoms, and eventually settling in the southern Rakers. Indeed the goliaths, though now mainly known as a bucolic, though barbaric people, gained a reputation, especially among the younger adults, as mercenaries. In times of war they would come down from the mountains to offer their services to the highest bidder, figuring especially in the wars of Keoland's "Imperial Phase." Despite this reputation some goliaths have made other contributions, among them Oxfeller, the companion and steersman of the adventurous Keoish king, Sanduchar the Navigator. Another named in connection with this race is the famed hero of the Great Kingdom, Zelren (http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=807, though there is dispute as to whether his mixed blood was of goliath or ogrish origin.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun May 22, 2011 11:52 am  

    A very interesting project indeed, hope this one flies like the wind. Could become one of the better Greyhawk projects for all, regardless of edition. Love this idea.
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    Sun May 22, 2011 2:12 pm  

    Two words -- Giant beaver. Come on people, jump in!
    GreySage

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    Mon May 23, 2011 7:29 am  

    I think your history of goliaths works very well. I'd almost be tempted to make them the descendants of the halflings and stone giants of Esmerin, but the size difference between stone giants and humans is probably more than enough.
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    Mon May 23, 2011 10:17 am  

    While i'm sure its not a Oerth only monster the "Tarrasque" (my personal fav.)

    I can't work my way around this once it shows up,how the hell does it hide again. I can see out of the way area's like dry stepps or the like. If it any were close to a major city? Some the newer rule escape me but thats another topic.
    GreySage

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    Mon May 23, 2011 10:22 am  

    Ankhegs in the Flanaess
    The ankhegs, while rare, are still too frequent for the tastes of the people of the Flanaess, who have encountered them preying on livestock and occasionally humanity in preparation for their molting or hibernation cycles throughout the land, from the north to the south and even in the barren Sea of Dust. While fossils indicate that the ankhegs menaced the ancient kingdoms of the giants and of the squamous races that preceded humanity, it was in the blighted region now known as the Sea of Dust that humans may have first encountered them. There, some of the oldest temples contain massive stone statues of ankhegs, an ancient aspect of the goddess Bralm. When they were active, these temples included live ankhegs fed sacrifices in return for Bralm and her eternally-devoured consort Phyton granting fertility to the fields. They seem to have been guarded by thri-kreen, who were more civilized in ancient times and may even have introduced the Suel to Bralm's worship; some believe thri-kreen are related to ankhegs in some way due to anatomical similarities between the two species.

    In modern times, depictions of Bralm in her ankheg aspect are rare, and thri-kreen are savages found only in the Sea of Dust and the Dry Steppes. Modern kreen seem to have rejected the worship of every god after the Twin Cataclysms destroyed their homelands, and any idols they might once have crafted are buried beneath the dust and ash. Still, the ankheg is considered a sacred animal in Bralm's faith, and while one of her temples keeping one alive deliberately is almost unheard of outside of savage tribes, it's not uncommon for Bralmites to turn the carapaces of ankhegs into ceremonial armor. Throughout the Flanaess, some villages host regular ankheg-killing festivals where they enter the beasts' tunnels during one of their dormant periods, drag out the helpless insects, and slaughter them. Normally the corpses are burnt, their meat used only for the feeding of dogs or domesticated hippogriffs, but in areas of Bralm-worship the corpses are given to the care of the priestesses, who make useful things out of the shells and ceremonially ingest the meat.
    GreySage

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    Mon May 23, 2011 1:02 pm  

    Giant ants in the Flanaess
    Giant ants, sometimes known colloquially as "gi-ants," are found throughout the world, everywhere that ants are, from giant desert ants in the Sea of Dust to giant aquatic ants in the Sea of Gearnat. While not evil and typically not even aggressive except in defense of their colonies, their vast consumption of resources marks them as an enemy of Man, who puts their colonies to the torch at every opportunity, consigning them for the most part to the margins of civilization (although some species are more aggressive than others, with species of giant army ants in Hepmonaland who roam from nest to nest, terrorizing all in their wake). Other races have occasionally found ways to live in harmony with giant ants, including dwarves and kobolds using them both to help them mine for precious metals (for which the ants care nothing, but instinctively bring to their queen) and to help defend their homes against outsiders.

    Apes in the Flanaess
    The smaller, gentler species of ape, the gorilla, is found exclusively in tropical forests, ranging in a wide habitat from the Pelisso Swamp to the forested Kelo Hills in Hepmonaland and also, to a lesser extent, in the Amedio. Its smarter, larger cousin, the carnivorous ape, is found in a similar range of habitat but has been brought by hobgoblin slavers throughout the Flanaess, where they are frequently used by hobgoblins as guards and attack dogs. Unlike the gorilla, the carnivorous ape is nearly as smart as an orc, with its own spoken language. Among their own kind, carnivorous apes revere the Touv gods and certain demon princes, primarily Demogorgon and Ilsidahur. Those who live with hobgoblins revere Maglubiyet and the rest of the hobgoblin pantheon. Carnivorous apes are distantly related to the smaller, more intelligent dakon of the Amedio Jungle.

    Axe beaks in the Flanaess
    Supposedly native to the Dry Steppes near the Sulhaut Mountains, isolated communities of axe beaks have been found as far away as the Isle of Dread. An axe beak "ranch" has been founded near Dyvers by enterprising adventurers who keep the foul-tempered birds for their exotic meat, which has been compared to beef, and for their feathers.

    Baboons in the Flanaess
    Baboons are found primarily in Hepmonaland and the Amedio Jungle, though a northern species, the boreamandrill, is common in the Fellreev Forest. In the Fellreev and the Vesve, the breeding programs of Iuz have created an abominable hybrid of baboon and orc, the losel.

    Badgers in the Flanaess
    Badgers and their cousins, the giant badgers, live in burrows throughout the Flanaess, feeding mostly on earthworms, grubs, and small mammals. Giant badgers are happy enough to feed on halflings if they can catch them, though gnomes often keep both badgers and giant badgers as pets. Gnomes have an innate ability to communicate with badgers and similar beasts.


    Last edited by rasgon on Mon May 23, 2011 6:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Mon May 23, 2011 6:19 pm  

    Locathah in the Flanaess

    Prior to the disappearance of their deity over a decade ago, the locathah of Oerth, each patterned in scales of greenish-yellow, were all but identical. Yet, in recent years, the subaqueous fish-folk manifested a remarkable transformation. On the eve of the Night of Hopeful Dawn, when both moons were cloaked in darkness, each unborn locathah egg shone with an inner light. That generation, and all generations to follow, were born with scales of deepest black offset with stripes of white and blue.

    As the young matured, their scales began to change. For reasons unfathomed, the new locathah were patterned in colors resembling those of larger angelfish. Interpreting dreams and portents, a caste system was devised. Each knew their place.

    It was later discovered that the Black Night Rebirth had wrought more significant changes. If a tribe of locathah was to lose their males, be it through war, disease, or abandonment, a dominant female would undergo a hermaphroditic metamorphosis, becoming male in a fortnight. These transformed males were also capable of siring garibaldi, a golden-skinned crossbreed, with human females.
    GreySage

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    Tue May 24, 2011 5:11 am  

    That's really interesting, Aeolius. I need to step up my game.
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    Tue May 24, 2011 9:14 am  

    Locathah, in my GH setting, are parthenogenetic. They are also the oldest bi-pedal vertebrates on the planet, having evolved naturally.
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    Tue May 24, 2011 9:34 am  

    chaoticprime wrote:
    Locathah, in my GH setting, are parthenogenetic. They are also the oldest bi-pedal vertebrates on the planet, having evolved naturally.


    My incarnum-based reef hags, and the pseudonatural fish hags, a creation of the kaorti, are parthenogenetic; though the shellycoats wiped out the fish hags long ago.


    Last edited by Aeolius on Tue May 24, 2011 11:06 am; edited 1 time in total
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Tue May 24, 2011 10:22 am  

    This is fantastic Smile

    Please make an article with all of them so I can have it as a monster book add-on.

    Thank you for a great idea and work.

    //Anna
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    Tue May 24, 2011 6:45 pm  

    rasgon wrote:
    That's really interesting, Aeolius. I need to step up my game.


    All due respect to Aeloius, the Locathah background was really good, but that Ankheg stuff killed. I was staring at the entry in the MM going "Uh, Ankhegs like to dig through farmland and eat people, but what else?" Meanwhile rasgon is throwing in Bralm and Suloise religious practices. That's just incredible stuff. Smile
    GreySage

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    Tue May 24, 2011 11:34 pm  

    More on carnivorous apes
    Before the continent of Atalya sunk beneath the Solnor Ocean ten millennia ago, it built colonies on the eastern coast of Hepmonaland. When the ocean drank their homeland, the stranded Atalyans walled themselves off from the rest of their new continent, shutting off their lives and gene pools from outside influences. For countless generations they remained in their walled cities, breeding their males to be fierce protectors and their females to be wise administrators, until male Atalyans had become degenerate brutes scarcely distinguishable from the gorillas who roamed the forests outside. As the millennia turned and some of the few remaining Atalyan cities crumbled due to external attack or internal revolution, the degenerate, ape-like Atalyans spread into the jungle, seemingly little different from the true apes, though larger and smarter, and used to eating meat.

    Around 600 years ago the hobgoblin king Bhutok, fleeing the expanding Great Kingdom, raided the last intact Atalyan city in Hepmonaland. He nearly destroyed the city walls when the queen called a truce, making Bhutok's tribe a deal: an annual payment of Atalyan slaves in exchange for hobgoblin aid in defending the city against other threats. The deal was struck, and remains in force to this day.

    As human descendants, the so-called carnivorous apes can still interbreed with humans. The result looks human 90% of the time, with apelike throwbacks born 10% of the time in subsequent generations. They breed with hobgoblins, too, but the result is a more bestial, apelike hobgoblin in most cases. They cannot interbreed with gorillas, dakons, or other apes, whose physical resemblance is apparently only superficial.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed May 25, 2011 2:29 am  

    smillan_31 wrote:
    Two words -- Giant beaver. Come on people, jump in!

    That beaver is huge! Don't worry I've got protection.

    Speaking of the Fiend Folio and weird monsters, are you guys aware of Paizo's Misfit Monsters Redeemed?
    GreySage

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    Wed May 25, 2011 6:44 am  

    Thanael wrote:
    Speaking of the Fiend Folio and weird monsters, are you guys aware of Paizo's Misfit Monsters Redeemed?


    Of course the Flumph topped the list. It was the first monster I guessed would be on the list as I waited for the page to load. rolleyes

    Rasgon, Aeolius, and smillan_31 - you guys are doing an excellent job! I second Eileen's suggestion that these entries be collected into an article (or articles) at appropriate times.

    I'd love to participate, but I have too many irons in the fire at the moment. Well, you probably won't run out of published monsters any time soon, so hopefully I'll get one or two in before it's finished. Wink

    SirXaris
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    Wed May 25, 2011 12:21 pm  

    Thanael wrote:
    Speaking of the Fiend Folio and weird monsters, are you guys aware of Paizo's Misfit Monsters Redeemed?


    Yes! I think it's very good. I've had a copy for a while, and I'm sure when I get to creatures like the flumph and the adherer, Misfit Monsters Redeemed will be very influential. But I'll make them more closely tied to Greyhawk. The "In Golarion" sections are in their way as frustrating as the "In Eberron" ones are in WotC's books, if only because I'd like them to say "in the Flanaess" instead.
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    Wed May 25, 2011 12:32 pm  

    Thanael wrote:
    smillan_31 wrote:
    Two words -- Giant beaver. Come on people, jump in!

    That beaver is huge! Don't worry I've got protection.

    Speaking of the Fiend Folio and weird monsters, are you guys aware of Paizo's Misfit Monsters Redeemed?


    I was thinking of working off the WTF, D&D!? series at Something Awful. They covered the MM, MM2, and FF.
    GreySage

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    Thu May 26, 2011 6:54 am  

    SirXaris wrote:
    I'd love to participate, but I have too many irons in the fire at the moment. Well, you probably won't run out of published monsters any time soon, so hopefully I'll get one or two in before it's finished. Wink

    SirXaris


    Feel free to write something on a monster someone else has already written about, too. We're generating ideas here, not creating canon. I've already written two contradictory takes on the carnivorous ape.
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    Thu May 26, 2011 10:47 am  

    Kobolds

    The diminutive kobold is often a curious attraction to behold in a traveling bazaar or circus. These strange reptile men have an innate drive to deconstruct and disassemble anything they are allowed to. Naturally nocturnal, their night escapades have earned them playful reputations (as tommyknockers) for taking down small buildings during the span of one evening. Many farmers have risen with the sun to find their chicken coop devoid of chickens, with the coop neatly deconstructed with all of its component pieces neatly organized in separate piles. All around, thousands of clawed-footprints run in every direction. The farmer may not notice that a single roll of barbed wire has gone missing, however.

    Kobolds are considered more of a mischievous nuisance than dangerous predator. This is absolutely wrong. A fully-functioning tribe of kobolds is more dangerous than a family of trolls. Kobolds will eat anything they can catch, and once a creature steps into their trap they are immediately added to the menu. Kobolds are masters of building simple machines into lethal traps, most often equipped with every sort of poison available, from dart frogs to their own feces (having a natural resistance to poison, they eat the poisoned flesh of their captured prey, and pass the poison along into their subsequently-poisoned waste).

    A tribe of kobolds (20-40 creatures), in a single night, can cover the area of acre in deadly traps. Typically, for this, they employ a wooded area. These areas are called "Trap Woods" by the like of Rangers and Druids. Kobolds tend to build these in heavily used areas by other creatures, using the presence of scents as a guide to them. Heavily used humanoid campsites are also prime targets. Leaving an emphasis on leaving no scents, tracks, or obvious changes to the environment after trapping it, the kobolds then return to their burrows till the following evening, when they will return to the site with poisoned, hooked, spears, to check for a catch.

    Almost like fishing, the kobolds will hurl their deadly snagging spears into the flesh of trapped prey. Once the poison incapacitates their victim, they scamper down their own lines and begin butchering them alive, passing the pieces back up the line where they are packed up to be taken home to their tribe. Though equipment is often left behind at the sight (though usually buried) the kobolds waste no part of their victim's body, using flesh, fat, and bone.

    Once the grisly task of emptying their traps is done, the kobold tribe will bury the whole of the trap, unlikely to use the sight again for some time. The largest portion of victims to them is animals, but humanoids also have undoubtedly fallen into similar fates.

    A kobold warren is designed specifically to prevent intrusion by other races, particularly those larger than kobolds. Built vertically, like an ant maze, into a hillside, use of small passages, trap doors, and lifting platforms, makes it all but impossible to intrude within their lair.

    Overpopulation is always the primary reason for the abandonment of a kobold warren. Kobolds do not well plan the scalability of their lairs, simply adding up more and more. As they outgrow their warren, they will simply move to another location, such as a cave system until a larger warren can be dug out of it. Some of the same tribe may stay behind in the old warren, or a new tribe may find it after time has passed.

    Signs of kobolds in an area are often hard to find unless it is well known what to look for. Kobolds have no qualms leaving behind their tracks in the forest, however they meticulously remove their tracks from a trap woods. Therefore, where the kobold tracks are not present, is the likeliest place to find their traps. Kobolds are also devastating to small trees and bushes with thorns, harvesting them for traps.
    GreySage

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    Thu May 26, 2011 12:49 pm  

    Nereids

    Nereids are among the least common fey spirits to be found upon Oerth and that should not be surprising as the truth of their origins will make clear. As the existance of such creatures go, Nereids are but infants in the histories of the fey. Owing their creation to a trio of mothers, they act the part of innocent or mischievous children with no knowledge or thought of responsibility.

    Not long ago, the ruler of the Unseelie Court, the Queen of Air and Darkness, desired to expand her evil influence among the fey of the Prime Material worlds. She had already seeded world after world with such plagues as Spriggan and Quicklings, black-hearted Treants and, of course, she had the Drow. She was not inspired to seek power over the element of fire, but she could work with water and within that realm she already had a foothold. Though water weirds were useful, what she desired was a more intelligent follower to work her will within that element. To that end, she made arrangements with Olhydra to create a being, much like unto herself, that would be her proxy within the oceans of the Prime Material.

    From that unholy union of mothers was born the Nereid – a creature possessing unnatural beauty veiling a poisonous heart that could freeze any liquid it came in contact with, including the blood coursing the veins of any mortal. Such creatures knew only the evil and chaotic instinct of their parents who delighted in the potential they saw in their offspring. Fortunately for Oerth, the Queen of Air and Darkness and Olhydra would not have the final say in that potential as Fate conspired to mitigate the unbalance that would be perpetrated by this creation.

    During the ranger Quaal’s fateful assault upon the Unseelie Court to rescue his Swanmay lover (1), he chanced to encounter, in passing, a few of the newly born Nereid. He lacked the freedom, or inclination, at the time to more fully investigate these unfamiliar creatures and nearly forgot the incident. However, once his mind and body had time to recover from the ordeal, he recalled these strangely compelling, though thoroughly evil, creatures he had noted so briefly during his adventure. Of all the strange and terrible memories he had recently gained, this particular one returned time and again to plague his thoughts. Thus, he called upon Beory and sent prayers of concern and question that she would grant him wisdom. No more has Quaal spoken of his involvement in the matter, but the result has been divined by other devoted mendicants of the Oerth Mother.

    Agents of Beory or, perhaps, the Oerth Mother herself gained access to the Unseelie Court and added the Will of the goddess to the Nereid creation before the process had been completed. Though these agents were not fully successful in their purpose, they had managed to introduce the gift of agency to these new creatures. (2) Their hearts and minds having been opened to the possibilities of both good and evil, these creatures made their individual choices. When the Queen of Air and Darkness released the first of her new experiment upon the Prime Material, she was dismayed when only a few proved to be faithful to her service. The vast majority simply chose to ignore their assignment and did as they chose while a small number turned against her and offered their services to her mortal enemy and sister, Titania of the Seelie Court! Furious, she divined the source of her frustrated attempt and banned Beory from her court and sought to stem the tide of Nereids flowing into the Prime Material plane. Stymied, she discovered that her children had all fled their nursery as quickly as possible once she had opened its gates. The best she could accomplish was to put an end to the experiment so that no new Nereids would be created.

    Thus it was that Beory protected her own children from an unnaturally unbalancing force that may have helped to bring about their doom. Thus it is that Nereids, though all flighty as spoiled children, may be of good cheer, of blackened heart, or most commonly possessed of an uncaring attitude such that they seek to avoid involvement in the affairs of others completely.

    (1) Short story by Rasgon of Canonfire! found here (scroll down a bit for the full story): http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=4402&highlight=quaal

    (2) Knowledge of order, responsibility, etc. was not gifted to the Nereid as the agents’ attempts were thwarted before that could be accomplished. However, Nereids of Oerth have a special ability to grant Water Breathing with their kiss. If the subject succeeds in their Save against the Drown ability of an Oerth Nereid, that subject gains the effects of a Water Breathing spell. This was a side effect of Beory’s balancing effort.


    Last edited by SirXaris on Fri May 27, 2011 6:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Thu May 26, 2011 2:48 pm  

    Sweet.
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    Thu May 26, 2011 7:58 pm  

    Ixitxachitl in the Flanaess

    Wary of Dagon’s dominance in the oceans of Oerth, Demogorgon sought to assert his influence through his vassals, the ixitxachitl. To this end he unleashed his fury over the Solnor Ocean, in the form of a fiendish storm. Rising to the surface of the sea his chosen minions, struck by unholy bolts of lightning, found themselves transformed.

    In the wake of the storm, a new breed of devil-ray emerged; twin-tailed and mottled with jagged markings. These ixitxachitl dealt electrical damage not unlike that of an electric eel.

    Though it was their vampiric cousins who received Demogorgon’s full attention. Their augmented energy-draining attack now spawned undead in the form of zombie slaves. The ixitxachitl use these undead creations as beasts of burden, to build sprawling undersea fortresses.

    The devil-rays took little notice, when the zombies grew dormant over time. Discarded by their makers, the drowned ones sought solace in the depths, where Demogorgon’s plans took hold.

    Kapoacinth in the Flanaess

    Aquatic cousins of gargoyles, the kapoacinth that dwell within the oceans of Oerth appear similar to their land-dwelling kin. Yet a select few have learned to hone their ability to freeze, to hold still as a statue, to greater purpose. These kapoacinth often gather in circles of a dozen or more, to freeze for days, weeks, or months at a time.

    In essence beings of living rock, the Still Ones, as the have come to be called, are often encrusted with coralline algae, sea sponges, and soft corals. Small animals such as fish, crabs, and snails will make their home upon the Still Ones, who over time take on a more neutral, nature-oriented alignment. The older kapoacinth are after encrusted with stony corals and barnacles, denoting their devotion to the freeze.

    When a Still One dies, their body crumbles to rubble, revealing within a shimmering pearl of iridescent hue. If twelve such pearls are gathered together, their possessor gains the ability to freeze as the Still Ones do. During these periods of immobility, the possessor of the pearl may often hear a distant voice singing.
    GreySage

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    Thu May 26, 2011 8:16 pm  

    @ chaoticprime:

    You've nailed kobolds in my opinion! Err... uh... Perfectly identified their ecology, to be more clear. Evil Grin Easily underestimated by those who have never had a serious run-in with them, but frustratingly deadly when their lair is assaulted.

    @Aeolius:

    Your write-up of the kapaocinth is very interesting, though a bit of editing may clear up a couple of lines.

    What I really appreciated though is your take on the ixitxachitl as I am including them as one of the main antagonists in the undersea adventure I'm currently writing for submission into the Oerth Journal. I'll be sure to make use of some of that background information. Cool

    SirXaris
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    Thu May 26, 2011 10:21 pm  

    SirXaris wrote:
    Easily underestimated by those who have never had a serious run-in with them, but frustratingly deadly when their lair is assaulted.SirXaris


    You should of been in the adventuring group that found that out first hand. Kobolds please me.
    GreySage

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    Thu May 26, 2011 10:24 pm  

    chaoticprime wrote:
    SirXaris wrote:
    Easily underestimated by those who have never had a serious run-in with them, but frustratingly deadly when their lair is assaulted.SirXaris


    You should of been in the adventuring group that found that out first hand. Kobolds please me.


    Yes, my players hate them too. They'd rather fight a handful of ogres at first level than assault a cavern of kobolds. Evil Grin

    SirXaris
    GreySage

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    Fri May 27, 2011 12:36 am  

    Sir Xaris, I think your Quaal reference comes from here:http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=4402&highlight=quaal
    GreySage

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    Fri May 27, 2011 7:01 am  

    Awesome Ragson! That's it exactly. No wonder I couldn't find it anywhere in the Articles section. rolleyes

    Please submit that as an Article for Canonfire! so that it can be more easily found. It is of excellent quality, in my opinion, and should be accorded a permanent spot as an article.

    Thanks! Happy

    SirXaris
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    Fri May 27, 2011 6:59 pm  

    Iblishi in the Flanaess

    Iblishi, or sea kobolds, resemble a union of kobold and blue-dot stingray. Lacking legs, they rely upon graceful wing-flaps for movement. The tail-barb of the iblishi, highly-prized for use in weaponry by other seafaring races, is mildly toxic.

    Aware that their diminutive stature placed them at risk, the iblishi had long ago discovered that consuming the flesh of dire sea creatures; sharks, eels, and barracuda, awakened their feral nature. The technique was adapted by others, most notably an organization identified by the symbol of a golden hook and known solely as “The Fishermen”.

    Blinogo in the Flanaess

    Blinogo, aquatic cousins to goblins, are shark-like in appearance and temperament. Like the merfolk, their torso tapers into a tail. Above their menacing maw, the blinogo have a wide-brimmed bill atop their brow.

    Long ago, sea goblins find themselves routinely slaughtered by seafaring folk and drylander alike, as their fins and bill were harvested as great delicacies. They were often butchered and thrown back to the sea to perish. Steadfast and strong-willed, the blinogo found ways to ensure their survival.

    Firstly, they learned to harvest rare serpent stars for their regenerative qualities. Secondly, they discovered that by ingesting various poisonous sea creatures, those that survived became poisonous themselves. Calling themselves the Envenomed, these poisonous sea goblins took great delight in exacting their revenge.

    Krana in the Flanaess

    Aquatic variants of orcs, the krana have glistening black skin and large white eyes lacking iris or pupil. They have sharp spines, protruding from their forearms and calves, that exude a mild paralytic poison.

    As land-dwelling orcs are viable with goblins, hobgoblins, and humans, so too are krana capable of producing offspring with blinogo (goblin), koalinth (hobgoblin), and humans.

    Half-krana offspring of humans appear unremarkable, at birth. Indeed they may live their entire lives unaware of their lineage. Yet, should such a creature ever drown within the sea, vestigial gills awaken. The skin of the now amphibious being becomes mottled and striated, marking them forever as something other than human.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Mon May 30, 2011 9:57 pm  

    This one owes big tips of the hat to our very own Wolfsire for his article on Nakimas, Elemental Spirit of the Hool Marshes (http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=848, and to HP Lovecraft's "The Doom That Came to Sarnath" for reasons that will be obvious to any who have read that fine tale.

    Babbler From the 1e Fiend Folio

    The sage Orimaxes of Monmurg has spent his life studying the history and denizens of the great Hool Marsh and has come to know many things. Not only is he one of the few who has seen the very rare remains of the strange breed of lizard man known by the inhabitants of the area as Babblers, but he also purports to know their origin. According to his tale, when men of the Suloise Empire, fleeing the great wars in the west came over the Harsh Pass and began settling in the Sheldomar Valley, where some seperated and went south, following the course of the Javan River, until on the edge of the marsh they came upon a vast lake, the lands about three sides of it exceedingly well suited for farming. On the opposite shore, nearer the marsh and swampier of ground lay a village of lizard men. Typical of that race, they proved to stay to their own devices unless molested, and for a time the Suel settlers farmed the lands and prospered, and their small village soon grew into a small town. But being Suel so recently of the Empire, some say it was in their nature to be cruel and evil, so for no reason but spite they gathered together and descended on the lizard man village, slaying many and driving the rest deep into the swamp. Settled among the crude huts and burrows, in a place of honor they found an strange idol, said to be made in the image of Nakimas, the Spirit of the Hool. Taking the idol as a trophy the Suel returned to their town, placed it in their temple and feasted their victory. But the next morning when they looked the idol was gone. Soon, people in the area began to disappear. Sometimes blood and other signs of struggle were found but of the bodies, no trace. Over a year enough people had vanished so that the rest abandoned their town and farms. Some moved a distance west and founded the village of Labalna By the Marsh, now known as Kimberton, on the banks of the Javan River. Most continued down the river, taking up among the Suel who were settling the lands south of marsh. Eventually, as so often happens the course of rivers and channels changed and the lake was absorbed by the swamp as was the town and all other traces of the the former settlers. The mystery of what exactly happened would have remained just that if not for the investigation of Orimaxes, who was visiting his friend, the sage Demetrios, an inhabitant of Kimberton. That worthy had once had the fortune of conversing with the shaman of a local tribe of lizard men led by a chieftain known to the locals as King Yiss. Asking about the tale of the unfortunate Suel settlement he was told that Nakimas revenge had come upon them in the form of those lizard men who had escaped the massacre of their village. in the deep swamp by some foul sorcery Nakimas had turned them into those the lizard men call "The Silent Ones" and men know by old wives tales as Babblers. The name the lizard men use for them holds truth because it is said they make no noise in their stalking. Though there is sense in what men call them also because they signal each other in the swamps through their calls that sound like so much babble and croaking. Gods help you if you ever hear it.
    GreySage

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    Mon May 30, 2011 11:01 pm  

    Nice addition to the thread, smillan_31. Smile

    SirXaris
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    Tue May 31, 2011 1:36 pm  

    Water Dwarves in the Flanaess

    Deep within an abyssal trench snaking along the depths of the Solnor Ocean, the water dwarves seek solace in seclusion. A red-skinned aquatic race, water dwarves are only encountered near hydrothermal vents. Indeed, the “black smokers” are vital to their survival for, like the eelpouts and crabs of the region, they are chemosynthetic - relying upon the vents for the chemical compounds that grant them life.

    Water dwarves have learned to harness the power of the vents to fuel their forges, crafting calciferous tools, weapons, and armor in the extreme temperatures rising from within the Oerth’s core. Over a period of years, the beards of water dwarves will often become encrusted with white sediment from the vents. In addition to the volatile black smokers and smaller white smokers, the water dwarves often gild their creations in the colloidal silver rising from the grey smokers unique to the region.

    Unbeknownst to other aquatic races, the water dwarves have discovered a rare crystal trapped in the trenches of the most extreme depths. Known as frozen thunder, the crystals are volatile and unstable.

    Unable to leave the depths infused by the vents, the xenophobic water dwarves reluctantly rely upon the aid of other races for trade. Anguillians are known to trade rare mussels pluck from undersea lakes known as cold seeps, with water dwarves, in exchange for weapons.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Tue May 31, 2011 6:22 pm  

    Keep it up people. Let's make this thread sticky worthy! Smile
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    Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:22 am  

    rasgon wrote:
    Ankhegs in the Flanaess


    In Living Greyhawk, a town was created in the Rift Barrens of the BK named Ankheg Springs. The tilling of the soil created by the ankheg's movements combined with an underground water source created a small, lush area in the otherwise arid barrens. The locals keep the ankheg population in check without seeking to eradicate them so as to keep the area fertile.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:12 pm  

    aurdraco wrote:
    In Living Greyhawk, a town was created in the Rift Barrens of the BK named Ankheg Springs.


    Does anyone else here "Ankheg Springs" and think of bottled water? ;)
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 01, 2011 5:47 pm  

    Aeolius wrote:
    aurdraco wrote:
    In Living Greyhawk, a town was created in the Rift Barrens of the BK named Ankheg Springs.


    Does anyone else here "Ankheg Springs" and think of bottled water? ;)


    Probably better than the water from Rotgrub Springs. Wink
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:48 pm  

    Troll, Spirit from the 1e Fiend Folio

    The arcane secrets of creating these extremely rare and foul creatures, magical cross-breeds of trolls and invisible stalkers, are lost to the knowledge of men. Their origins however are hinted at by rumor of the witch Iggwilv, whose step-mother, Baba Yaga gifted her with two of them as servants on the occassion of her wedding to the Baron of Dora Kaa. Another reference is found in the tale of the meeting between the then-mortal Kostchtchie and The Old Witch of the Woods. The Baba Yaga was able to subdue the savage Kostchtchie with the aid of her spirit troll servants, who drained his strength from him until the witch was able to bind him. Whether Baba Yaga bred them or not, there are believed to be only thirty of the creatures still loose in the world. Of these, the most commonly reported are of a pair are said to haunt the southern Yatils, perhaps the former servants of Iggwilv. Rary supposedly bound another to his service, though there has been no report of it since he took up in the Bright Desert. This is supported by the occurrence of a series of savage and unsolved murders by an invisible assailant, in Lopolla in the weeks following him teleporting his tower from that city. That was the last report tied to any of these creatures, but doubtless they still lurk, somewhere out in the world.
    GreySage

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    Sun Jun 05, 2011 2:24 pm  

    Ooh, a very interesting take on spirit trolls, which always seemed like a pretty random creature to me.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:43 pm  

    rasgon wrote:
    Ooh, a very interesting take on spirit trolls, which always seemed like a pretty random creature to me.


    Thanks! I always felt the same way about them, but this inspired me to come up with something and I'm pretty happy with it. In fact I'm tempted to stat up spirit trolls for 4e so my players can fight one someday.
    GreySage

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    Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:47 pm  

    Baluchitherium
    During the height of the Baklunish Empire, the stone circles of Tovag Baragu was a portal to countless worlds and planes for Baklunish armies and traders to explore. A combination of the trauma of the Invoked Devastation and the terrible energies channeled through the circles by the mage-priests who brought down the Rain of Colorless Fire, however, altered the connection between the circles and the planes, generating new cycles of portals that the few remaining Baklunish thaumaturgists did not know how to control. Soon there were none at all who knew the circles' secrets and Tovag Baragu's portals went wild.

    The most frequent full connection in the present era is between Tovag Baragu and the ancient era that preceded the last ice age. As a result, strange beasts such as the rhinocerous-like baluchitherium, the mighty cave bear, or the flightless axe beak have wandered through over the centuries and can be found with some frequency in the southern Dry Steppes, especially near the Sulhaut Mountains where the presence of mountain streams mean the terrain is more fertile.

    Barracuda
    Barracudas are found in warm salt waters, such as the Azure Sea, the Oljatt Sea, and the Densac Gulf.

    Basilisk
    The scaly basilisks are thought to perhaps be native to the Elemental Plane of Earth. In any case, their strange eight-legged bodies make them unlikely to be Oerth natives. They were brought to Oerth during the reign of the serpent kings, before the arrival of the elves. During the age of the Olman Empire they were known as the tchechiwhani and often kept as pets by Olman emperors. The Olmans would fit them with golden helms which they could unshutter from a distance using special poles, petrifying their enemies. In modern times, they are more often kept as pets by petrophilic races such as medusae or pech.

    Bear
    Black bears are most common in the Flanaess, found in forests throughout eastern Oerik. Brown bears, slightly rarer and more aggressive, are distributed more widely, and are found throughout Oerik, from the islands of the Sea Barons all the way to the eastern coast of the Solnor Ocean (known as the Oceanum Titanicum in the Aquaerdian dialect). Cave bears, thought to have entered modern Oerth through Tovag Baragu, are found mainly in the Sulhaut Mountains, while polar bears are found mostly in the frozen north beyond the Land of Black Ice.

    Giant beaver
    The very rare, docile, and remarkably intelligent giant beaver race dwells in hand-made giant dams in minor rivers throughout the Sheldomar Valley and in the Urnst States, in roughly the same range as halflings, with whom they often trade. Halflings and rural human populations sometimes hire giant beavers to aid in their own dam construction. Attempts by giant beavers at damming major rivers needed for trade are stopped, violently if necessary, by the local human populations, and in less peaceful human lands such as the former Great Kingdom lands they have been entirely exterminated. During the reign of Vecna they were used as slave labor in some of the lich-lord's construction projects. The range of giant beavers was actually much further in those days as giant beavers, considered to be the property of the Whispered One, were forbidden for the Flan to kill. Vecna cared little for trade with outsiders, and allowed giant beaver dams to span whatever rivers they liked.

    Giant beavers speak their own language, Sylvan, and Common. They revere a god they know as the Celestial Beaver, who continually gnaws away at the trunk of the World Ash (having already successfully cut down the World Birch, World Aspen, and World Willow), intending to use its lumber to complete the construction of the giant beaver afterlife in the Twin Paradises. Some few secretly worship Vecna, hoarding secrets in their hidden lodges.

    Giant beetle
    Giant beetles are mainly found in forests, though fire beetles are subterranean and often harnessed by human miners to light their work. A colony of boring beetles has collectively achieved human-level intelligence, and rules a small empire in the northern Suss Forest, demanding a toll from all who pass. Water beetles are most common in the Nyr Dyv.
    GreySage

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    Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:51 pm  

    As always, a tip of the hat to The Great Embarkation by Erik Mona. The idea that hobgoblins were created by ancient enemies of the elves appeared in Classic Monsters Revisited by Paizo Publishing. There's some Clark Ashton Smith in here, too, and some ideas from the adventure Sea of Blood by Bruce Cordell.

    Quaggoths and the goblin races
    The war had been going badly for the quaggoths. They had been the most civilized of the mammalian races prior to the coming of the elves, building gigantic temples of basalt to Tsathoggua, god of sorcery, Nerull, god of death, and Yhoundeh, goddess of elks, in the northern forests, and trading slaves to the kuo-toa of the Isles of Woe in exchange for additional occult secrets. Now, their mastery of the north was threatened by the more numerous elven legions, whose magic was more focused on combat than on the shaping of life. Settlement after settlement was wiped out by elven combat-mages in retribution for the death of Amaranthe, sister to the elven queen Maebhel.

    In desperation, the quaggoth sorcerers turned to the lowliest of their slaves, the fecund goblin race, and reshaped them into their own image using lore encoded in their great tome, the Pnostic Manuscripts, incorporating some of their own blood in their creations to make them larger and hairier than before. Two new races arose: the orderly hobgoblins, who did not fear the sun, and the stealthy bugbears, who had the most quaggoth blood of all. The new goblin races bred quickly, much more quickly than the elves, and the quaggoths sent their new forces against their elvish enemies.

    Still the elves won, triumphing over the newly-born, poorly-trained goblin-kin. The bulk of the goblin horde were driven beyond the Fals Gap and the remaining quaggoths and goblinfolk were driven into the furthest north and beneath the depths of the earth.

    Still the elves were not done. They drove the kuo-toas into the oceans and the darkness and imprisoned the god of the anguiilian eel-folk into a sculpture made of serpentine. Not satisfied with their slaughter, they used the Pnostic Manuscripts they had stolen from the quaggoths, as well as lore taken from the eel-folk, and shaped aquatic forms of their own race, and the aquatic elves followed their enemies into the oceans to slay them there.

    In desperation, the enemies of the elves joined together and created one last time, shaping similar aquatic forms for the hobgoblins. The koalinths, or aquatic hobgoblins, followed their enemies into the sea, and although they were unable to prevent the extermination of the sea-dwelling kuo-toas, they have made life more difficult for the aquatic elves ever since.
    GreySage

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    Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:41 am  

    Interesting. I hadn't recalled Giant Beavers as intelligent monsters. Probably because I never used them (or any other such mundane creatures in my own campaign Wink ).

    That's a good take on the Quaggoths and the goblinoids as their creations. How does Maglubiyet fit with that creation theory as far as the hobgoblins and bugbears goes?

    SirXaris
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    Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:43 pm  

    "..and the koalinths have made life more difficult for the aquatic elves ever since," finished Marynnek, smiling as if this were the punchline of a joke.

    The hobgoblin glared sullenly at Marynnek after he finished speaking. "Sir," he growled toward the Lesser Boneheart priest. "If you weren't so favored in the eyes of Lord Iuz, I would have killed you for saying that."

    The red-haired priest of Iuz simply grinned at his servant. "That's why I value you, Karnok: your outspokenness. Tell me, then, great priest of Maglubiyet. What story do your own people tell of the origins of your race?"

    Karnok seemed surprised that he wasn't struck blind or deaf, or drained of his life-energy, or simply killed for his impudence toward the man who ruled the Horned Lands in all but name. He answered reluctantly at first, but his voice grew in strength as he continued.

    "In the age of creation, Maglubiyet of the fiery eyes rose from the volcanic core of the world. He created the first goblins from molten lava; they were tall and dark, mighty of arm and magic, and they were as one with the worgs because Maglubiyet had not yet divided kind from kind. Yet these first goblins, the barghests, were prideful and would not bow to their creator. So it was that they were banished to the barren slopes of Gehenna, to remain until they had earned their way back with stolen souls.

    "A new race of goblins, the low goblins, was made from clay. They were small and humble, weak of limb and slow of thought. They were separate from the worgs, whom Maglubiyet had recreated independently from the new goblin folk. The low goblins were perfect servants for Maglubiyet and his sons. They did what they were told, and they provided sacrifices to the gods at the appropriate times. For a time, the world worked as it was intended.

    "Then two new gods descended from the vaults of sky to challenge Maglubiyet. Corellon Larethian..." Karnok spat on the ground. "...who was born from the moons, and Pelor..." Karnok spat again. "...who was born from the sun. They told lies about Maglubiyet. They claimed that Maglubiyet had stolen the secrets of creation from Corellon." Karok spat. "...and would have killed him if Pelor..." He spat. "...hadn't intervened by burning Maglubiyet with his solar fire. Maglubiyet would have killed him, it's true, only a moon-god, born so far from the world, was not worth the notice of the Mighty One. The truth was that both sky-gods were jealous of Maglubiyet's creations, so much better-formed and more obedient than their own, so they made up lies in order to justify wiping them out. Corellon..." Karnok spat. "...sent his elves to slaughter the goblins, and Pelor..." Another sound of phlegm clearing, and the harsh smack of a gob of spit hitting the floor. "...burned them with his light, driving them into caves and tunnels, and it looked as if the low goblins would be wiped out entirely.

    "So it was that Maglubiyet created yet another goblin race, the high goblins, whom you know as the hobgoblins or hoch jebli. The hobgoblins were modeled after the Mighty One's favored son, Nomog-Geaya. They were taller and stronger than the low goblins; taller and stronger than the elves, too. Their clay was baked with fire, and so they did not fear the rays of the sun. The hobgoblins rallied the low goblins and together the goblins drove the elves from their lands!" Karnok finished his sermon by raising his fist in defiance to the sky.

    Marynnek slouched in his chair, balancing his chin in one palm. He grinned crookedly. "And how do bugbears and koalinths fit into this myth of yours?" he asked, a trifle condescendingly. "And, for that matter, norkers, or orcs?"

    Karnok scowled, but he did not rise to the priest's bait. "Bugbears are creations of Hruggek. He is one of Maglubiyet's sons."

    A hoarse voice came from the darkness to Karok's right. A black-furred bugbear, who had been observing the narration in silence, finally decided to speak up. "Maglubiyet is Hruggek's son!" the bugbear declared. "Hruggek was born first, and Hruggek sired all other goblin gods!"

    Marynnek laughed openly, delighted. "Ah, a conflict! I was wondering when I'd provoke one. And who was the mother? Or, should I say, the wife?"

    "Maglubiyet's bride was the Oerth itself," said Karnok. "Her name is taboo to speak," murmured the bugbear at the same time.

    "Fine, fine," said Marynnek, gesturing dismissively. "I'm not that interested in your obscure goddesses in any case. What of the other goblin races?"

    "The elves fled the triumphant goblin army," answered Karnok. "Some of them fled to the sea, where the goblins would have slaughtered them. Except they prayed to their gods to turn them into fish, and their gods answered their prayers. The goblins who had pursued the elves prayed to Maglubiyet to transform them as well, so that they might follow their enemies into the waters, and so the koalinths were born. The norkers were made from stone. Some say they were created just after the barghests, but proved to be too uncontrollable, so they were abandoned to the wastes and the clay goblins were created in their stead."

    "And the orcs?"

    Karnok and the bugbear both scowled. "Orcs are no kin to goblins," said the hobgoblin priest. "Their god allied with Maglubiyet at one point, for both were enemies of the elf-god and the sun-god. But Gruumsh..." He spat on the ground. "...betrayed Maglubiyet, deciding to take all of Maglubiyet's sacred lands for himself instead of dividing them fairly. So it is that Maglubiyet wars with the orc-god in the afterlife, declaring that if the orc-god would not accept his fair share of the spoils, he would get no share at all, and all that he claimed would be taken from him, in this world and the afterworld."

    Marynnek grinned broadly. "Splendid. Simply splendid. Your primitive folk tales have such a vigor to them, and they impart such admirable lessons. Vengeance, jealousy, betrayal: these are all sentiments I can get behind." He yawned suddenly, and then sprawled back down in his chair. "Modern science has shown us otherwise, however. The manuscripts of the ancient quaggoth empire? Fragments of them still exist. Lord Iuz has recovered some of them. How do you think we Boneheart have created such wonders for the glory of his empire?"

    Karnok simmered. "The bear-men of old may have had impressive magic. That does not make them our creators. The sacred scriptures of my people, the Lay of the Axe, are not just tales. They were handed down to us from the prophet Karganok, who was given them from Maglubiyet himself during the Great Migrations. They tasked us to seek out the holy lands that Maglubiyet cleaved with his axe, claiming them for his people when the other gods would deny him his right. If these scriptures were not true, Maglubiyet would strike his priests down for saying that they were. If the scriptures were not true, we would have no miracles from the Mighty One. How can you believe our god would support spurious lies?"

    Marynnek fixed his aggravating smile on Karnok. "Ah, but you forget: I worship the lord of deception. I find the concept of a god lying very easy to believe."

    Karnok actually growled. "Iuz lies. Maglubiyet does not need to lie. If you worship the god of lies, perhaps you believe the things you do because your god has fed you so full of deception that you are no longer able to tell truth from falsehood."

    Marynnek laughed. "Oh, no doubt, no doubt. The truth is highly overrated. We use lies to make our own truths, and force truth to crumble into lies." He grew serious, then. "But I tire of this banter. Leave me, now, both of you, before I make the truth of your command positions into a lie."

    The hobgoblin saluted, his face returned to its usual lack of expression. He turned on his heel and left the room. The bugbear was already gone.


    Last edited by rasgon on Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
    GreySage

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    Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:56 pm  

    Bravo, Rasgon! That's quite an answer. Smile

    SirXaris
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    Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:47 pm  

    Good stuff, rasgon! As always. And thanks for the Giant Beavers. Smile
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Fri Jul 08, 2011 7:47 am  

    Since we are sharing regional ecologies in story form, here's a bit I wrote back in 2000, regarding the opinaku - half-elven offspring of human weresharks and sea elves.

    She had always loved the sea. It offered a sanctuary unrivaled by the world of Those Above. Within the sea, she found a freedom untethered by weight or weather. Within the sea, she was at home.

    Seeking shelter within a coral grotto, she regarded the shimmering barrier Synsaal. Above the hydrosphere, she alone could draw life from the emptiness it offered. She alone knew the secrets of Those Above. Still, she choose blissful ignorance over the pain her past had caused. The prophesy must be wrong.

    It had been five years since she had walked amongst Those Above. Five flocks of migratory birds were all that marked the passage of time, here. Men chose to measure their days by the passage of the shimmering orb. Within the depths, only the tides revealed the turning of the hours.

    She recalled the moment of her departure, spurred by the omens proclaimed by the elder circle. Their words had been chosen with care; to hurt without anger, to banish without force. They revealed to her what had been known by her heart all along. She was not the true daughter of Dalan. This much she had known, for his age was much greater than her own.

    It was true that she could breathe within the sea, as easily as the others drew sustenance from the air. Her father had suspected this, yet he, like her, had chosen to say nothing. The elder circle exposed their secret, taunting her the way one does with a scrap of meat to a dog. She had never questioned why she had been granted such a gift, she simply accepted it.

    Her physical differences had been forgotten long ago. Misshapen ears were easily hidden beneath her locks of gold. The folds of skin between her fingers were looked upon as an oddity, but nothing more.

    Born in the belly of the shark, they had said. Daughter of an elven maid and outcast, they interpreted, from omens and signs.

    Having grown weary of a life of deception, Dalan had confessed to the circumtances of her birth. Within his nets, he had found the shark. Tangled and unmoving, he had taken it for dead. He admitted to seeing the skin atop the belly of the beast undulate from within. What caused him to open the stomach of the shark he shall never know.

    Yet there, within, he had found her. A newborn babe swaddled in entrails and remains, she was not what Dalan had expected to find. He could never have foreseen the love he would feel for the child, as he claimed her as his own.

    It was the child, grown to womanhood, who would unknowingly bring misfortune. The elder circle would not be appeased by any measure, save her death. And so Dalan had fled with his daughter, pursued by a people blinded by hatred. No longer a young man, Dalan did not survive the journey, leaving his daughter scarred by visions of vengeance.

    -=-=-=-=-=

    She returned to the one sanctuary the elder circle could not desecrate, within the solace of the sea. Swimming without aim or intention, she happened upon an area of ocean more temperate than the surrounding waters.

    And so it was that Nautica discovered the Spires.

    Within the warming waters of the Dramidj Ocean, Nautica explored each spire in turn. Each was, in essence, a massive structure towering hundreds of feet atop Synsaal. Beneath the surface of the barrier, each tower descended much further. Making her home amongst the Spires, she learned of the three worlds they encompassed.

    The first was a world of sunlight and clouds. Atop Synsaal, the Spires stretched upward; foreboding cliffs of unnatural smoothness. As they rose, the cliffs would, upon a regular interval, break into a level plateau blanketed by lichen and conifers, before extending upward once more. Each appearing as a rounded ziggurat, the Spires were home to countless colorful birds and exotic seafaring creatures. Small reptiles, crabs, and insects bred in abundance here, away from the machinations of man.

    The second world was one of water and currents. Beneath the surface of Synsaal, the abnormally warm waters had spawned a living reef. Tropical fish and invertebrates of vivid hue enjoyed the symbiosis afforded by the protection of the jagged coral. Though, as the Spires descended, the thalassic forms grew large and belligerent. Predatory fish ruled the depths of the Spires, kept in check by creatures Those Above dare not imagine.

    Within the darkness of the hollowed pinnacles, the third world existed, oblivious to those around it. Within the ruins of a failed civilization, the unliving skulked in shadows. A legion of the unliving awaked into the existence of undeath, awaited the time of the Prophesy.

    It was the world beneath the waves in which Nautica felt most content, yet danger knows not of such boundaries. She remembered when she had first seen the sharks. Dwellers in the darkness, the pinnacle sharks enjoyed the seclusion afforded by their coloration; a mottled pattern of gray which blended with the stone of the Spires. So swift was their approach, that Nautica found herself entrapped.

    When the sharks approached, she instinctively cried out. To her surprise, they heard, listened, and in time understood. With the discovery of this newest gift, her vengeance, long buried, would find its voice.

    The pinnacle sharks, though docile, held a sinister secret. When death claimed one of their number, the creature claimed a new life of its own, sloughing death like a second skin and emerging as one of the unliving. Yet, even in undeath, the creatures remained loyal to their benefactor.

    And so she had returned, choosing her moment with care. Upon the night when both moon shone fullest, the elder circle stepped into the harbor, to greet the highest of tides. The greeting which awaited was one of bloodied justice. The unliving pinnacle sharks moved swiftly amongst the circle, a frenzied dance of death which claimed each elder in turn. No one suspected Nautica as being the instigator of the vengeance that was served that night. No one saw her tears as they merged with the waters of the bloodied harbor.

    No one watched, as Nautica returned to her home amongst the Spires, never to return to the world of Those Above.
    GreySage

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    Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:47 am  

    Great short story, Aeolius! Happy

    That could be developed by any DM into a side trek where the PCs save a seaside village from the depredations of Nautica and her undead sharks or expanded so that the PCs explore each of the spires while searching for Nautica's lair and, eventually, her 'benefactor'.

    SirXaris
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    Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:31 pm  
    Beholders of Oerth

    Beholders in the Flanaess
    The average citizen of the Flanaess knows little of beholders except as minor characters in popular folktales. Beholders in stories are seldom treated as intelligent adversaries; more commonly, they appear as sentinels working for greater foes, as in the Keoish tale of the Lich of the Moors (possibly a folk memory of Vecna), who kept the people in fear with his twin "tyrant eyes" before a noble knight defeated them while blindfolded. In Blackmoor similar stories are told of beholders serving the Egg of Coot, "the Eyes of Coot." Most people find the idea that beholders might be as intelligent as humans to be as incomprehensible as claims of intelligent hands or noses, and beholders are popularly confused with the effects of arcane eye or eyebite spells, mere extensions of evil wizards. The intelligent exploits of certain real beholders, such as the beholder Vhalantru's successful reign as mayor of the city of Cauldron in humanoid guise, are beyond the imagination of most humans, and even in Cauldron, long after their mayor's fall, the story is not commonly believed. In stories where beholders do appear as independent adversaries, they're portrayed as easily tricked. The Cuthbertine tales of the Wise Fool and the halfling tales of Kaldair Swiftfoot both include a story in which a beholder is tricked into gazing into its own reflection and promptly slays itself, disintegrates itself, or turns itself to stone. Halflings dwelling near the city of Jurnre will even show visitors the boulder at the edge of a local pond that was supposedly a deadly eye tyrant before Kaldair Swiftfoot tricked it into peering at its reflection in the water.

    Preserved beholder corpses are viewed as exotic artifacts and sometimes taken on tours in traveling circuses to the awe of local rubes. People don't doubt that they exist, somewhere deep below ground, but see them as creatures as legendary and irrelevant as mind flayers, kuo-toans, deep dwarves, derro, or the mythical drow.

    The words "beholder" and "eye tyrant" are both Common translations of the Suel word balmokdeen; the root deen means both "eye" and "beholder," while balmok is an obscure, ancient word referring to an illegitimate ruler. In Old Oeridian they were the augetyranns ("eye tyrants"), and in Flan they're known as auchenai (lit. "those who watch"). In their own tongue they are the baa'tzerik'olok'orob, which they will translate as "sole inheritors of true vision." No beholder will apply this word to beholders outside their own communities, however, and in most cases they will only apply it to themselves as individuals. Most ordinary people refer to them simply as "eye tyrants," while "beholder" is an adventurer's word common among those who are most likely to encounter them. Adventurers will condescend to refer to them as "eye tyrants" among mixed audiences, but among one another they make it clear that only rookies call them that. Scholars writing in Common generally prefer to call them beholders when writing for other scholars, and eye tyrants in works intended for a more general audience. The term "sphere of many eyes" is archaic and rarely used by anyone.

    Theology
    Many mythoi describe a primal godlike monster or monstrous deity (often called an "Elder Elemental God") who was dismembered by younger gods in order to create the cosmos. Though later suppressed in favor of an ex nihilo creation, early Suel myths feature Lendor cutting apart a multi-headed, many-limbed monster with his flaming sword Afterglow and using its various organs to construct the world, the heavens, and the planes of existence. In some versions, Beltar forms from one of the monster's leftover parts, either its eye or womb, and gives birth to countless monsters ("the thousandbrood"), including demons, beholders, dragons, giants, chimerae, medusae, lamiae, hydras, hags, goblins, and orcs to bring vengeance upon the creations of Lendor.

    Similarly, the seminal Velunese religious text, the Book of Incarum, describes Rao "forming from the light of pure reason" and "dividing the body of Atropus so that Creation could form." Most recent scholars, including Canon Hazen, have opined that "Atropus" is another name for Tharizdun, though dissenters have pointed out that Tharizdun is mentioned by name later on in the same chapter, "crawling from the chill void beyond created things," and maintain that this means that Tharizdun and the Elder Elemental God Atropus are separate beings.

    Other mythologies feature whole hosts of elder elemental lords (or "Lords of the Elder Elements") battling entire pantheons en masse. The Old Oeridian epic The Song of the Primordials is one such, describing a great war at the dawn of creation that the gods needed to win before life could thrive on the mortal plane. During this war, many gods died and many of their enemies were cut apart and imprisoned.

    Regardless of the details, a common theme among theologians who have bothered to account for beholders is the myth of a fragmented god, one of whose eyes became the "god" of the beholders or the first of that species. Whether such an entity would be actually worthy of the term "god" has been a matter of fervent debate.

    The beholders themselves believe the first of their kind hatched from eggs laid by an entity whose name is usually translated as "Great Mother," though this translation fails to do the Beholder term justice. The word translated as "Great," Arik, is only ever used by beholders to refer to their deity, making it a unique adjective and effectively a personal name. Beholders, like some human philosophers (Helm of Pholtus, for example, a former prelate of the Pale), use a hierarchial model of reality to "prove" the existence of a being greater than all others. Helm, who called this the "Argument from degree," believed this greatest possible being was Pholtus. Beholders, on the other hand, are each certain that their particular subspecies is the greatest possible form of life and that the greatest possible deity is the Great Mother, envisioned as a divine version of their own beholder subspecies. Therefore, some (for example, the dwarven sage Durgamon of Dumadan) have argued that "Greatest of All" or "All-Great" may be a more accurate translation of the word. For great things that nonetheless fall short of their deity's perfection, beholders generally use the word rik.

    The Beholder word translated as "Mother," Ischmadis, means both "fertile progenitor" and "ruler," and is also used to describe the so-called hive mothers that control the most populous beholder communities. Beholders are hermaphroditic, so the word is not gender-specific; Durgamon of Dumadan, however, has argued that the translation "mother" is appropriate, as the deity is portrayed as an egg-layer, but though there are some tales of it mating with demons and demodands it is never said to be the sire of its countless half-breed young, only ever as the mother. While the Great Mother is believed to have produced the first beholders (and, some say, the gibbering mouthers) without the aid of any father, many of its other young were all spawned with another being fertilizing its eggs. Thus, argued Durgamon, the Great Mother is more feminine than not.

    Many human theologians reject the idea that the beholder Great Mother is truly divine. High Censor Spidasa of Medegia, for example, once wrote dismissively, "This so-called 'Great Mother' is nothing more than a powerful demon or monster like so many others, if it is not merely a delusion created by the beholders' own overinflated sense of grandeur." It must be said that as beholders have never been shown to receive divine spells, there is scance evidence that this entity exists. Those of Suloise heritage often consider it to simply be a self-aggrandizing title of Beltar's. Beyond the story of the fragmented elder god, it has little role to play in most myths, although the Demonomicon of Iggwilv does mention the beholder deity twice, as the mother (the father was the obyrith lord Cabiri) of the race of oculus demons and as the mother (with Fraz'Urb'luu) of the archdemon Phalse, who once contended for rulership of the 223rd plane of the Abyss; Phalse is depicted in Iggwilv's tome as resembling a human with a beholder's head. A many-eyed shator demodand known as Abrexius, who rules sixteen orbs deep in the plane of Tarterus, is described by Iggwilv as one of the Great Mother's children in another of her works, The Nethertome.

    Another myth, common among the faithful of Boccob, has it that beholders were created for the purpose of gathering all knowledge in the multiverse, but they forgot that purpose and turned to selfishness instead. In punishment, the gods cursed them with xenophobia so intense that they would forever turn against their own kind until they once again remembered their reason for existing.

    Ironically another of the Great Mother's children, the lesser deity Gzemnid, is much better attested to in myth, being portrayed as a continual foe of the dwarven god Dumathoin, as well as Bleredd, Ulaa, and on one occasion Kord (who in the myth was humiliated by Gzemnid's illusions and blown back to his home plane in what seems to be a parable for the hazards sea travel holds for the overconfident; in the myth, Kord is suitably chastened and petitions Xerbo for help, after which he finally is able to arrive at his destination).

    In 583 CY, the archmage Philidor the Blue penned a text called Prior Ages of the Multiverse as part of the requirements set to gain acceptance into Greyhawk's Guild of Wizardry. In that text, Philidor detailed a class of entities he called "draedens," masses of tentacles and eyes the size of demiplanes who inhabited the void before the coming of the gods. Philidor claimed that while most of these entities now slept, many of the so-called "gods" revered by the aberrant races, such as the illithids, beholders, aboleths, and psurlons, were actually draedens who remained active in the present age.

    History
    The drow of Erelhei-Cinlu trace the origins of the beholder of Oerth to a region deep below their own, a network of unstable passageways known to them as the Hatchlands. There, it is said, the Great Mother ascended briefly to Oerth to lay a clutch of her primal eggs. Beholders all over the world occasionally return to the Hatchlands, called upon by an inexplicable primal urge to confer, share plans, and leave.

    Most of Oerth's beholders measure about five feet in diameter, with wrinkled pinkish flesh and clearly visible blue veins. Their tentacle-stalks are unjointed, and the eyes on their tentacle-stalks are lidless, retracting into the stalks when not in use. Countless variations exist within this basic shape, with individuals exhibiting different coloration, prominence of veins, size of their mouths and eyes, as well as wilder differences, each believing their own appearance to be the true original beholder form as well as the form of their deity, with genocidal wars of extermination common between even the mildest differences. Most beholders are so sensitive to the differences of others that they cannot tolerate the presence of any other individual of their race, though they may accumulate minions of other races such as gargoyles.

    Another kind of beholder is also found on Oerth, slightly larger with hard, pebbly skins and jointed, articulated eyestalks. These larger beholders, whose hide tends toward a deep purple or blue, are apparently invaders from beyond the stars, hailing from an alien world known as H'Catha. Some legends claim they were summoned to Oerth by a group of mad human cultists, or led there by a crystalline entity from another plane, or that they followed another extraterrestial race such as the illithids or the gods of the Olmans. They arrived on Oerth millennia ago in a vast, spherical ship, intending to conquer the world and fill it with their kind. They built the great city of Ilth K'hinax, the Place of Spires, at their landing site, now lost, its ruins now located beneath a small human town. Soon, though, they came into conflict with elves, with illithids, with giants, with native beholders, eventually warring among themselves as their own differences became too great for them to stand. They have long since lost any semblance of a common culture and are now just a further source of xenophobia to keep the beholders of Oerth occupied.

    Settlements
    While most beholders live apart from others of their kind, it is possible for the rare hive mothers and beholder overseers to unite communities into hives and even more populous hive-cities. The only extant beholder hive-city known to other races is Kaggash, which is located on a volcanic, mist-shrouded island in the Densac Gulf near the Island of Dread. Others are rumored to exist somewhere in the Underdark, but most have collapsed into ruins and are now inhabited primarily by other races. At least two further beholder hives may exist deep below the Abbor-Alz; the beholder known as Father Eye seems to have come from one, since "rival beholder clans" are mentioned in his description. Beneath the Sea of Dust, a colony of beholders is said to have become dominated by a race of creatures ancient when the beholders were young.
    GreySage

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    Sat Aug 20, 2011 10:55 pm  

    Bravo, Rasgon! That was a good read. Happy

    SirXaris
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    Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:33 am  

    Black pudding
    In the dawn of Oerth's history, a race of creatures half slug and half slime dominated the world, worshiping elder elemental powers with exotic, violent rites. Then something happened: a conflict with another race, perhaps, or perhaps they summoned their own gods in a rite that destroyed their minds, or perhaps younger gods struck them down to make way for newer races. Regardless of the reasons, most of their descendants are now mindless entities: the lowly oozes, jellies, and slimes found mostly in the deep subterranean regions of the world. Others say the oozes were created by the aboleths as a food source, servitor race, and weapon of war. Still others say the demon lord Juiblex, born from a festering wound in the heart of the Abyss, inspired the creation of these amorphous forms of life. Perhaps all these things are true to some degree.

    Blink dog
    Long ago, in the Age Before Ages, the Wind Dukes bred beings of pure light into servants with canine-like forms: the Hounds of Law. These hounds were created to track the enemies of the Wind Dukes, even across planes if need be, and to oppose the Beasts of Chaos created by the obyriths.

    The first hounds of law were purely orderly in nature, like the Wind Dukes themselves, but after the great war, the descendants of the Captains of Law who scattered the Rod of Seven Parts became the wendeam caste, whose lives were dedicated to tracking the pieces of the Rod as they moved from plane to plane. The wendeam continued to breed hounds of law, but now they were influenced by the increasingly benevolent nature of the wendeam.

    Many thousands of years ago, a group of wendeam and their hound of law servants came to the land of Mur, where a fragment of the Rod was rumored to have come to light. The fragment was indeed there, having inspired a monastic human civilization dedicated to pure order, but it was only bait for a trap laid by an ancient sibriex demon, an obyrith warper of flesh who wanted a chance to capture some hounds of law, take them apart, and figure out how to use the knowledge gained in its own experiments. The wendeam were wiped out by a surprising number of spider-demons under the command of the sibriex and the hounds were captured alive, dissected by the sibriex while still conscious so that it could examine which organs allowed them to track their targets across the planes.

    A decade later, the first displacer beasts appeared, creations of the sibriex using panthers, beasts of chaos, captured xill, and certain organs from the hounds of law to craft a bizarre, tentacled, multi-limbed creature that could bend light around it to deceive those who who would attempt to track them, even hounds of law. First used by the savage Chaos-worshiping cults of Komal and later adopted by the drow, displacer beasts soon spread across the Flanaess.

    On other planes, the intelligent hounds of law learned what had been done to their kin and swore to wipe displacer beasts from existence, considering their survival to be a personal insult to their kind. Some of them asked permission from the wendeam to leave their company until such a day as the hated displacer beasts were destroyed once and for all. Others defied their masters and left on their own. Packs of hounds of law began appearing across the Flanaess, wherever there were displacer beasts, appearing from the Border Ethereal Plane and vanishing when there work was done. The hounds of law were few, however, and the displacer beasts were many. Without the support of their masters, the hounds were slow-breeding, so they began to interbreed with other intelligent canine species, notably the mist wolves. Over the generations, concentrating as they were on a single plane, they became faster breeders, but their plane-shifting powers became more limited. Eventually, rather than crossing fully into the Ethereal Plane they could only "blink" in a limited range. They found that a small price to pay, however, since they had no desire to move to other planes before their task was done.

    Today the blink dogs, terrestial descendants of the legendary hounds of law, are as prevalent as their displacer beast adversaries. Though generally benevolent, with a strict caste-based society, they have never given up their quest to exterminate the displacer beasts once and for all.
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    Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:37 am  

    Boar
    Wild boars are found throughout the Flanaess from the Amedio Jungle to the lands of the Frost Barbarians. Only desert areas and dry tundra lack these beasts.

    Giant boar
    The giant boar, also known as the dire boar or (in Suloise) the elothere, can be grouped with other so-called "dire" animals (and, perhaps, other so-called "Ice Age" animals who have entered the Dry Steppes through Tovag Baragu) as belonging to an earlier creation, a time before the gods made the common animals known today. This was the mythical age of giants, when every animal, including those of humanlike shape, was larger, rougher. This age has passed with the great glaciers among which the frost giants once made their sport, and the giants themselves have largely retreated into the hills and mountains or the depths of the sea. As for the animals of that age, few can be said to be completely extinct, in part because of the efforts of the druids who have, in one form or another, protected all beasts since before the age of giants began. According to myth, even before the gods replaced their elder creations with newer, smaller versions less likely to be a threat to them and the stability of the world, the druids were there. Before the giants themselves were fashioned, the druids were there in the form of elementals and spirits of nature who would pass down their secrets to younger generations in ages to come.

    Warthog
    Warthogs are restricted primarily to Hepmonaland's jungles and savannas.

    Brain mole
    These creatures seem to be nothing more or less than mundane moles, mysteriously gifted with psionic power. The possibility of illithids or aboleths accidentally creating a variation of a specific animal that hungers for their own psychic energy isn't impossible; some sages (including Drawmij) have speculated the illithids made them to keep their thralls in line in the days shortly before the birth of Gith, when the psionic potential of their slave races was growing exponentially and the mind flayers had begun to show fear. Others (for example, the Savant-Sage) suggest they date long before, to an era when the aboleth tyranny seeded the dry land with brain moles in order to prevent the birth of psions who might compete with them. More recent theories, advocated by Master Pantrell at the Greyhawk School of Psionics, have it that brain moles are actually natural creatures, spawned by the Oerth itself (as personified by Beory) as a kind of immune reaction against the incursion of psionic threats from elsewhere over the eons, particularly the aboleths and illithids. The absence of tentacles, slime, or anything that would obviously distinguish brain moles from common moles lends support to the theory that they are not the creations of aberrations.

    Brain moles are very rare, but found throughout the Flanaess. They are more common in areas of high psionic activity. Master Pantrell finds them a particularly vexing pest, and regularly dispatches his students to cleanse the area of them.

    Brownie
    Another of the vaguely defined Ages of Oerth's time of myth and legend is what is sometimes (and probably inaccurately) known as the Age of the First Folk. Before the giants were rudely fashioned by the elder gods, the newborn Oerth was inhabited by elementals and spirits of nature, grandchildren of Beory and Father Time. The myths of the fey themselves attest to an era when every rock danced and sang, when every tree walked as a man, when songs were substance, before the mountains took root and before the rivers were chained to their banks. The line between the animate and inanimate was nonexistent in these days, the line between substance and essence vague and tenuous. Some magical cataclysm changed that, though, disrupting the flow of magic and nature so that the Oerth could no longer support so much enchantment. The priesthood of Boccob blames Tharizdun for this, in the dark god's time of glory before the gods bound him in his prison, though dark lore preserved in the ruins of the Sinking Isle tells of a cataclysm wrought by the elder elves - a hole in the fabric of reality through which alien entities inimical to reality itself emerged, seeding the world with aberrations and bringing about the first age of ice. In any case, the most magical places on Oerth were banished from the world, becoming the Fading Lands, and the fey began their long exodus. As the mountains rooted themselves in the earth and began their long sleep, as the rivers splashed restlessly in the banks they could only slowly shift, the lords and ladies of the fey prepared, discussing the matter endlessly, founding the order of druids to look after the world after they were gone. Those who remained behind were smaller, subtler, dwindled like the magic of their race. The ancestors of the brownies loved the world too much to leave it, or perhaps they were disdainful of the faerie elite, contemptuous of their endless balls and masques. Perhaps they were exiles, or considered too common to join in with the wild hunts, but they remained behind in woodland bowers even as they shrank. When the Rujari, primitive ancestors of human beings, first discovered how to tame fire, the brownies began to gather near their hearths. They may have been lonely after the departure of their people, or perhaps it was the touch of fire spirit in the ancestry, but they began tending to the coals while the Rujari slept and doing them small favors, serving them as they had once served the faerie nobles during the Age of the First Folk. And so, as the ages passed, they came to similarly serve modern humanity.

    Still, the brownies are not human. Their minds are of the most ancient age, kin to the mountains and rivers and flames in the days when there was no difference between the elements and life. They interpret any form of thanks or payment for their services as a terrible insult, promptly leaving to find other hearths where their ancient tasks are treated with dignity, as their natural functions rather than the crude chattel slavery humans call "employment." They treat the notion of debt with deadly seriousness, and object to any implication that the people they serve are indebted to them for something as natural as the tasks they perform.

    Brownie anatomy is very unlike that of humans or modern demihumans. They lack anything like internal organs; when they die, their origins as spirits of nature become apparent as their bodies transform into manlike bundles of twigs and ash, like the remains of a hearth after the flame has burned out. While the brownies are small in the mortal world, in the Fading Lands, where magic is still rich and strange, they are as tall as elves, or taller still.

    Brownies are found primarily in rural areas, where the connection between mortals and nature is still strong. They associate themselves with humans, halflings, elves, and gnomes (though seldom dwarves, unless they live on the surface); while the Rujari were the first to tame fire, any race that has hearths and some measure of respect for the natural world is likely to attract brownies. A common myth among halflings and others is that the first halfling, known in myth as Littleman, was originally a brownie who came to be adopted by the wandering goddess Yondalla. In the myth, Littleman was transformed utterly from fey to mortal so that Yondalla could have a race to call her own. Halflings say this was voluntary, that Littleman was as lost and alone as Yondalla was, though even the most benevolent gods often seem to care little about what mortals want when they're busy weaving the threads of destiny.
    GreySage

    Joined: Oct 06, 2008
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    Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:56 am  

    Rasgon, as surely as Boccob is my Patron, I'm going to have to start a Page just for you. Wink

    The "Races of Oerth" project is soon to begin and many of your "Monsters" are gong to find their way into it -- you'd better believe it. Evil Grin

    Mwahahahahahahaha!
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    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
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    Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:44 pm  

    On brownie religion
    Fey in general care little for the younger gods, sometimes behaving as if their signs and symbols were actually painful for them to look at. Perhaps these gods represent the new, mortal-dominated ages, anathemic to the old ways of the First Folk. The brownies, however, have always had a special fondness for Ehlonna, the Lady of the Forests. Most myths would suggest that Ehlonna is relatively young, a half-breed daughter of an elven deity and a human deity (her exact parentage varying from myth to myth), but to the brownies she symbolizes the transition of their people from a race of servants laboring under haughty fey lords to a free race who aided the younger races of their own free will. From what can be discerned from the fragments of brownie legends that they have let slip in front of mortals, the brownies view Ehlonna as a savior of both their own race and of the forests in general. In the age following the departure of the faerie folk to the Fading Lands, the forests were silent, having no greater spirits to guide them. Then Ehlonna came, bringing life once again to the woods, gathering the brownies to her bosom after their own lords had abandoned them. As a result they revere Ehlonna fervently, willingly coming to her call.

    Brownies tend to reject Obad-hai for similar reasons, seeing him as one of the old powers that abandoned the brownies when the fey lords abandoned the world. Obad-hai, for his part, does not seem to regard brownies as any different from other sylvan species, neither favoring them nor persecuting them.

    Brownies do not seem to have any particular affinities with goddesses of the hearth such as Berei or Yondalla, seeing them as focused on the hearths only as mortals see them. No matter how closely they may intertwine their lives with mortals, brownies remain creatures of the wild, incapable of understanding the human concept of homes as separate from nature.

    Buffalo
    Despite popular confusion, the Hepmonaland buffalo is not related to the bison common in the Barrens and the northern plains, nor the wisent found in the Dim Forest, the Oytwood, and the Hornwood. Buffalo are primarily found in the Hepmonaland forests and savannas, though the Scarlet Brotherhood has introduced some to the Tilvanot Peninsula. Forest buffalo tend to be only half the size of savanna buffalo.

    Bugbear
    If one is to believe the theories of the priests of Iuz, bugbears were created using flesh-shaping magic by the quaggoths in the ancient days when quaggoths were a civilized people, before their decimation by the elder elves. Of the two species created in this way from common goblins, bugbears were given the largest proportion of quaggoth blood, and as a result they are the most hairy and bearlike of the goblin races. Despite their size, they were created to be stealthy assassins, forming irregular guerilla units that would harass the elves from the shadows while the hobgoblin regulars attacked them directly. The bugbears themselves consider this origin story to be nonsense; they were created by their fertility goddess Vershnat, they say, or by Hruggek, their god of war, or by Skiggaret, their god of fear, or some combination of all of those for the purpose of bringing terror to all other races. One bugbear myth says that the first child of Vershnat, known only as Stalker, was born stillborn but its ghost, which resembled a pool of darkness, remained in the world and tried to murder its mother and the other gods. It was for this reason that the gods made common goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears for Stalker to hunt, so that it would concentrate on killing the goblin-kin and leave the gods alone. Goblins were made to be easy kills, but prolific, so that Stalker would always have prey. Hobgoblins were made to be more difficult to slay, but bugbears were made in Stalker's own image, to strike fear in those goblins who might grow too complacent with Stalker around, and to make sure that Stalker never grew bored.

    Oeridian folklore has it that bugbears were born (along with trolls, ogres, and other monstrous races) from the spilled blood of Erythnul as he battled the titans in the first war of the gods. Suloise folklore has bugbears as among the brood of Beltar. The Flan teach a variation of the bugbear myth of Vershnat and Stalker, with Vershnat replaced with Beory and Stalker with Nerull. Baklunish texts hint darkly that evil humanoids are the creations of evil, fallen gods abandoned by their people when they migrated from the lands beyond the mountains to the west, but have struck their names from all records, believing them to be blasphemous to write or to speak.

    Bugbears are relatively common in the Bone March, the Pomarj, the Thillonrian Peninsula, and the Dreadwood, often lairing in underground caves. In Blackmoor dwells a subrace with blue fur.

    Bulette
    The dreaded landshark was thought to have been driven to extinction. The last specimen recorded was slain by the ranger Quaal in 450 CY. For over a hundred years no further attacks were noted, but suddenly in 570 CY no less than five bulette attacks were noted outside of the City of Greyhawk itself, and the population seems to have been growing every year since. The suspicion of the locals is that bulettes were created by the mad wizard Zagyg, made from samples taken from the carapace of the imprisoned deity Olidammara and the ichor of Fraz-Urb'luu, though people of other lands consider this theory both blasphemous and unlikely. While Zagyg had let his creation lapse for a time, the renewed fervor of explorers in his castle inspired him to create them anew, and they have plagued the central Flanaess and beyond ever since.

    The blame thrust upon Zagyg for the bulette may be a characteristic of Greyhawkian myopia rather than any hard evidence. It is unlikely that the ancient bulettelike creatures lurking beneath Bad Deep or the bulettes of the Sea of Dust are descended from anything the Mad Archmage is responsible for, after all. It may be that landsharks are simply another ancient monster from a previous age when great armored behemoths roamed the Flanaess, one that periodically goes into torpor before emerging in force hundreds of years later. It's possible that bulette eggs remain viable for centuries, when some geological or magical disturbance finally allows them to hatch.

    Bull (and cattle)
    Cattle are one of the most common domesticated animals throughout Oerth. Paintings of them (aurochs, or dire cattle) have been found on ancient cave walls, believed to have been made by the prehuman Rujari. In ancient Suloise religion, they were associated with Kord and Llerg, and according to Oeridian myth a bull-god sired Kurell and Zilchus. Among the ancient Flan, the bull was the symbol of a settlement near where Rel Mord lies today, and Oeridian conquerors slaughtered a colony of minotaurs dwelling beneath.

    Today there are hundreds of specialized breeds of cattle throughout the Flanaess, from the feral, shaggy Jotenes of the Jotun Mountains to the golden-red, long-horned Yeoman cattle, to the stout, hardy ysenkatel of the Frost Barbarians, to the short-horned Kettite Black.

    Camel
    Wild bactrian (double-humped) camels are found in the Dry Steppes and occasionally even further north in Baklunish lands. The single-humped camel (dromedary) has been spotted in the Sea of Dust, where it has been domesticated by some of the tribes dwelling there. It seems unlikely that dromedaries were used in the Suel lands prior to the Rain of Colorless Fire, so in all likelihood the animal was brought from further south by the dark-skinned Zahindi tribes.

    Carrion crawler
    The carrion crawler is not a native of Oerth, but seems to have been brought to this world by illithids during the time of their vast empire; the creature is anatomically very similar to other illithidae species common to the distant Sunset World, Ssirik Akuar. Be that as it may, the creature has spread throughout the caverns and catacombs of the Flanaess, seeming to thrive on this planet.

    Catoblepas
    The loathsome catoblepas is thought to be native to the Pelisso Swamps in Hepmonaland, where it is still most common, though it plagues wetlands from the Cold Marshes to the Rushmoors to the Hool Marshes and more. How they have spread so far is unknown, though stories of them stepping in and out of the mists, disappearing as if into a dimmer, less wholesome world parallel to our own, persist. The Flan believe the catoblepas is an ill omen sent by Nerull, and similar tales are found in other cultures; the bugbears believe it to be sent by their god of death, Stalker, while the Suel fear it as an aspect of a wrathful Wee Jas and the Oeridians tell tales of them emerging from the corpse of a primal beast slain by Erythnul, mingled with the blood of the Many. Modern scholars, for example Mordenkainen, tend to interpret the catoblepas in much more rationalistic terms, seeing them as hybridized creatures (similar to mongrelmen, who share their habitat), combinations of warthogs, hippopotamuses, and Hepmonaland buffalo whose exposure to arcane energies allowed them to develop a bizarre defense mechanism, their signature gaze of death. The Savant-Sage, as always, tends to blame the tinkering of the ancient aboleths for their genesis. Yet the widely separated range and reports of mysterious appearances and disappearances of the catoblepas remain perplexing, so much so that Rhennee warnings of "dark powers" moving them around using mists from beyond the world cannot be entirely dismissed.

    Centaur
    Baklunish legend tells of a woman who so loved her horse that she merged with it, becoming a hybrid creature that combined an equine strength and beauty with the mind of a human. Yet this first centaur was lonely, so the gods took pity on her and transformed her human husband and children into centaurs as well. Centaur herds gallop through the Plains of the Paynims to this day. Cynics point out that the Baklunish legend of the first lamia is virtually the same.

    Be that as it may, centaurs are scarcely less varied than the humans they resemble, and they are found in forests throughout the Flanaess, dwelling commonly in Celene, the Welkwood, and the Gnarley. Flan myth has it that they were a completely separate creation, made by Obad-hai so that he would have a people that paid him more respect than humans did. The Huleneaer of the Bright Desert represent another variation, more civilized and stern than their sylvan kin. In the Amedio Jungle, a group of centaurs revere Chitza-Atlan, the guardian of the underworld, and the local Olman see them as the sacred offspring of this deity. All varieties of centaur are much less common than humanity, being out-bred and out-organized by human and humanoid competitors.

    Centaurs have lived in the Flanaess at least as long as the Flan have, and most likely for longer. Elven tales memorialize the deeds of their centaur allies in their civil war against the ancestors of the drow.

    Centaurs primarily worship a god called Skerrit, who is commonly believed by nearly everyone, including the centaurs themselves, to be another name for Obad-hai. Even the Huleneaer worship this god, representing him as a desert centaur rather than the leaf-wreathed deity revered by sylvan centaurs, sylvan elves, and satyrs. Some centaur tribes have also been known to revere Ehlonna, Fharlanghn, Velnius, and Olidammara, as well as the centaur hero-deities Bilros and Linroth, god of strength and goddess of speed. Those few centaurs who have turned to evil have been tempted by Geryon and Baphomet.
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    Tue Sep 27, 2011 6:45 pm  

    Awesome additions, Rasgon! This stuff is excellent. Smile

    SirXaris
    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Nov 07, 2004
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    Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:32 pm  

    More good stuff, Rasgon! I especially liked the mention of Chitza-Atlan with the Centaurs. Smile
    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
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    Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:23 pm  

    Giant centipede
    In the Age of the First Folk, the first sentient life on Oerth was the elementals, living creatures of fire, earth, air, and water who warred over the young world, defining the shape of the continents and oceans with their battles. When they finally came to a truce, other life could exist. It was only then that Beory gave birth to (some say with Obad-hai as the father) the Plant Lords and the Animal Lords, the progenitors of the first species. All living things that the druids consider "natural" descend from these beings or from the elementals and fey.

    The first Animal Lord to have children crawl the dry land was Nnuuurrrr'c'c, Lord of Insects. Among the very eldest of Nnuuurrrr'c'c's offspring were the centipedes, the many-legged ones who crawl in the moist places of the earth to this day. Because centipedes lose water easily, only wet, humid areas will do for them: under rotting wood and leaves, and in moist caverns and caves. The druids say that in the First Age, all animals were larger, but many shrank after the Fading Lands formed and the world itself grew smaller. So it was that for most of Oerth's history the centipedes, among the eldest of beasts, were also among the smallest, the majority harmless to humans, who could easily crush them underfoot.

    That was before the Great Rain of Fire poured down upon the world, saturating it with eldritch energies from the Elemental Planes. Those creatures in the Suloise Basin who did not die were forever changed by the event. Insects in particular grew bloated and strange; soon enormous roaches, centipedes, and beetles burrowed beneath the Sea of Dust, more resistant to the aftereffects of the Fire than the humans, who had simply died, only those on the fringes of the basin surviving the fiery deluge.

    In the millennium since, the Rain-warped centipedes (including their relations, the huge centipede, megalo-centipede, and tunnel worm) have spread throughout the Flanaess, thriving in the damp tunnels and dungeons of the Flanaess even more than they thrived in the tunnels and ruins beneath the ashen desert. It's possible that not all giant centipedes encountered today are Suloise mutants; some may be survivors of the First Age, or simply exotic species native to the southern jungles. That the Rain of Colorless Fire turned many insects into giant horrors, though, is not in doubt.

    Giant centipedes are opportunistic predators prepared to eat anything they can kill, including worms, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, bats, beetles, and snakes. Ordinary giant centipedes are only about a foot long; while this is very big for a centipede, they are small compared to giant ants, bombadier and fire beetles, black puddings, carrion crawlers, cockatrices, goblins, kobolds, xvarts, derro, and other subterranean predators who devour them with relish. Huge centipedes often prey on giant centipedes, and are in turn preyed upon by megalo-centipedes and the like. Giant centipedes may also prey on one another.

    Cerebral parasite
    Those who, like Greyhawk's Master Pantrell, believe that brain moles are the result of the Oerth's own immune system defending it against psionic aberrations believe that cerebral parasites were created due to a similar principle, but by the multiverse as a whole. For while these parasites are found throughout the world where individuals of psionic talent congregate, they are equally likely to be found on other planes, including the Astral and Ethereal. Rary prefers a more prosaic explanation; he points out that in every ecological niche, creatures will rise to exploit it. The cerebral parasites, in his view, are simply creatures who formed through abiogenesis from the stuff of the Astral Plane to exploit the many psionic creatures found there. From the Astral, they followed their prey to the many other planes of existence, breeding and thriving wherever psionic energy could be found. While other possibilities are to be found in obscure myths, such as the story of the four elder gods, children of Beory who sacrificed their beings to create the quadripartate Cerulean Sign, sometimes the most prosaic explanation is the right one.

    Chimera
    This abomination, claimed by neither Rexfelis the Cat Lord nor by Haaashastaak the Lizard Lord nor by Zazal the Goat Lord, is assuredly not considered a natural beast by the druids, who make no move to defend it against hunters. Unfortunately for the world, the chimera needs no help from the druids in maintaining its role as a predator feared by beasts and humanoids alike. Early Suloise myths say that the chimerae are among the Thousandbrood of Beltar, one of a host of monstrosities she birthed in retribution for the death of her own many-headed progenitor by the Lendor's sword Afterglow. The Baklunish, on the other hand, credit Lamashtu, Demon Queen of Monstrous Births, for creating these monsters after mating with a lion, a dragon, and a goat in succession. More obscure lore, known among the cultists of Graz'zt and the lamiae, claims that chimerae are part of the complex family of creatures (collectively known as the lamyros) that include the lamia and its cousins, the lamia noble and the goat-lion sa'ir. According to this school of thought, the chimera is descended from the inter-mating of a common lamia and a red dragon. A variant of this theory, recorded in the Book of Twelve currently in the hands of Eclavdra, holds that all lamia-kin have draconic blood, which only manifests itself in the rare event that two sa'ir are born fertile. Thus, chimerae are born from the mating of two bestial sa'ir, who in turn are the offspring of two common lamiae, who in turn are the offspring of two lamia nobles. Most commonly the sa'ir are sterile, however, while chimerae are perfectly capable of mating to give birth to their own kind. The phenomenon of a sa'ir giving birth to a chimera has never been observed by humans or drow, so to date it remains only a controversial theory recorded in an obscure tome.

    The much rarer gorgimera, on the other hand, which replaces the head of a goat with the head of a gorgon, is almost certainly a hybrid created through magical means. Gorgons are natives of the Elemental Plane of Earth and cannot normally successfully mate with any creatures of the Prime Material Plane. Cultists of Ogrémoch have successfully created these beings using the same rituals used to create half-elementals. It may be that the cultists learned these rites from the medusae, who have also been known to utilize gorgimera guards. Lamiae, for their part, view gorgimerae as abominations.

    Chimerae are most commonly found in rocky, hilly regions preferred by goats and red dragons, such as the Abbor-Alz (gorgimerae are also found dwelling near gorgons). However, the leonine natures of these races sometimes lead them to take up residence in savannas and plains in temperate to tropical regions. They are often found in the same regions as lamiae and their kin. Red dragons hold chimerae and gorgimerae in contempt, but do not deny that they are likely related in some way. Sometimes they will make use of them as guardians of their lairs, a habit that only reinforces the common belief that chimerae may be a given red dragon's own descendants.

    Cockatrice
    The cockatrice is another of Beltar's mythological Thousandbrood, and likewise associated with Lamashtu (and also the demon prince Abraxas, though as their creator rather than their sire). However, modern sages (Mordenkainen, the Savant-Sage, Rary, Iquander, et al) almost universally agree that it's more likely that cockatrices have some connection to the Elemental Plane of Earth. Particularly given their unusual ability to affect Astral and Ethereal creatures with their petrifying touch. The fact that these creatures are apparently able to thrive on that plane only makes this more likely. The similar pyrolisk, likewise, has been spotted on the Elemental Plane of Fire, suggesting that those creatures have a similar connection to that plane. The common folkloric belief that the cockatrice is hatched from an egg laid by a cock and incubated by a serpent is derided among educated circles.

    Cockatrices are uncommon (pyrolisks even rarer), but are found in the same range of habitats as lizards. Medusae have been known to keep them as pets.

    Couatl
    Natives of the Seven Heavens, couatls were sent to the Amedio Jungle of Oerth in approximately -2,400 CY to defend it against the fallen demon lord Azuvidexus. Azuvidexus was subdued, but could not be destroyed as long as the N'gharl Seed that empowered it remained intact, so the couatls have remained in the southern jungles ever since, including Hepmonaland and Zahind. They remain capable of entering the Ethereal Plane at will, and the eldest among them retain the ability to planeshift. In the south they contend not only with Azuvidexus, but with rakshasas, yuan-ti, bar-lguras, lamiae, nagas, and other fiendish or evil serpent creatures, protecting mortals and the world against the forces of evil.

    Couatls worship a god known sometimes as Jazirian, but whom the Olman know as Quetzalcoatl. It was the intervention of this god through its couatl servants on the world of Oerth that inspired the other Olman gods to travel between the spheres and involve themselves with Oerth's affairs. Because their power is mysteriously tied to the movement of the stars visible near the world's equator, most of the Olman deities have little to do with the Flanaess. Jazirian, however, has connections to the religion of the nagas and the yuan-ti, even meriting an appearance in the ancient scriptures of Istus popular among the Bakluni before Al'Akbar's reformation. Jazirian is actually a Baklunish name; in the Baklunish myth, he is among the ancient deities Istus consorted with before bringing the younger gods into being. In Al'Akbar's reformed scriptures, Jazirian is not mentioned, and Istus is said to have called forth the other gods alone.

    Jazirian is not acknowledged by most other modern human religions. In the heretical Guide to Hell written by Chrystos of Rel Astra in 120 CY, however, Jazirian is the twin of Asmodeus, primal good to Asmodeus's primal evil. The tome is considered heretical by all faiths, however, burned by the church of Hextor and hidden away by the church of Delleb in their vault of dangerous works.

    Rumors persist of a tribe of Jazirian-worshiping, feather-wearing yuan-ti somewhere in the Hepmonaland jungles, sworn foes of their evil kin.

    Giant crab
    Though seldom acknowledged by sages, crabs and other crustaceans are actually part of the domain of the Animal Lord Nnuuurrrr'c'c, just as insects and arachnids are. Giant crabs appear to be entirely natural creatures, though exceedingly ancient ones found as far back as the age of reptiles prior to the Age of Giants. They are rare, but can be found in or near nearly every major body of water in the Flanaess, from the Dramidj Ocean to Lake Whystil to the Sheldomar River to the Sunless Sea. They operate as well on land as in the water, though they can only stay on land for an hour or so before dehydrating. Giant crab meat is delicious, and eaten by humans and other predators across the Flanaess, though giant crabs are too aggressive and dangerous to domesticate.

    Giant crayfish
    Giant crayfish are found only near fresh water, including the Nyr Dyv, Lake Quag, and so forth. Like giant crabs, they are vassals of Nnuuurrrr'c'c, of similar antiquity, and similarly edible.

    Crocodile
    Crocodiles are ancient reptilian creatures distressingly common in tropical and subtropical regions, including the Amedio, Hepmonaland, the Hool Marshes, the Gnatmarsh, the Mistmarsh (though this represents the northern extreme of the crocodile's range, as they are sluggish in cold weather), the Vast Swamp, and the Tilvanot (and in distant Arypt), found near rivers, lakes, and swamps. Surprisingly, they are not subjects of the Lizard Lord, Haaashastaak; they have their own Animal Lord, Sobek, who considers himself more akin to the Dinosaur Lord and the Lady of Birds than to the lord of lizardkind. A relative of the crocodile, the giant crocodile, is found only in salt water.

    Demon
    In the beginning, there was only Chaos.

    This is not a truth universally acknowledged. Since the Eight-House War, the oldest Suloise tales of Lendor battling a vast monster from which to create the multiverse were suppressed, replaced with a primal void in which Lendor has always existed. The Velunese Book of Incarum begins not with Chaos, but with the light of pure Reason. The dwarves say that Chaos is a flaw introduced into the perfection of the original creation by jealous lesser deities. Many modern faiths begin their story with the world's creation, claiming that any discussion of what came before is meaningless.

    But in the oldest tales, Chaos came first.

    Most faiths do not acknowledge the demons as deliberate creations of the gods. The ancient Suloise, prior to the Eight-House War, counted them among the Thousandbrood of Beltar. The Olman consider them to be creations of Tezcatlipoca and his sister Tlazolteotl. The drow, infamously, worship demon lords as gods, as do sinister cults among many other races including humans, yuan-ti, lamiae, harpies, kenku, and all the races enslaved to the cambion Iuz. Most other faiths speak of a primal Chaos that existed before the gods, a Chaos that erupted in terrible fury at the order the gods created, birthing horrors consumed with corrupting or destroying all of the multiverse. Sometimes Chaos is a sly infection that corrupts the gods themselves before they discover it and cast it from themselves into the Abyss, where the god-borne infection becomes the first demon princes, each a manifestation of a specific god's sins and weaknesses. Sometimes the demons were always external, having nothing to do with the divine. Very often, demons are said to be born from the sins of mortals, much later in the history of creation, the gods themselves being sinless. In those few tomes that mention the Dark God Tharizdun, chief among them the Book of Incarum, Tharizdun is sometimes said to have had a role in twisting the raw Chaos that formed outside of Creation into Evil.

    The later period of Suloise cosmology, and modern sages such as Mordenkainen remove the gods from the central role mythology has given them in the history of the multiverse. According to Mordenkainen, the gods are latecomers to the planes, and the primal forces that actually birthed Creation - Chaos and its counterpart Law, Evil and its counterpart Good, Fire and its counterpart Water, Negative Energy and its counterpart Positive Energy - are much, much older. And demons are older too, just as devils, celestials, and other planar beings predate the gods who would eventually rise to power and name themselves the masters of creation.

    One of the most renowned of scholars of the demonic was Tulket nor Ahm, a loremaster who lived in the ancient Kingdom of Sulm shortly before its destruction (indeed, there is some evidence that Ahm's researches helped result in Sulm's destruction, that it was Ahm who gifted the Scorpion Crown to his patron Shattados after he finished recording its known properties in his tome). Ahm, at least, was not transformed into a scorpion-man as were most of his people; his gory death at the talons of vengeful demons prevented that. Ahm was a firm proponent of the theory that demons were created by a Chaos that hated the ordered Creation that the gods had made. An even more closely guarded book by another author, the Demonomicon that Iggwilv based on the ancient Flan work, the Tome of Zyx, tended toward a view more like Mordenkainen's (not coincidentally, as it is almost certain that Mordenkainen has read a copy of the Demonomicon). It is clear that Iggwilv thought little of the divine. Iggwilv did, however, include an elaborate genealogy of demonkind, beginning with the most ancient demons and listing all their various offspring to the present day, as well as those demons who were once mortal souls, and those born from the Abyss itself.

    Both Iggwilv and Ahm distinguish between the elder, proto-demons who existed before mortals (called qlippoth by Ahm and obyriths by Iggwilv) and the younger demonic races, including the oculus demons, the tanar'ri, the jar'taska, the v'ang, the nuyul, and the loumara.

    The many-eyed oculus demons are descendants of the obyrith lord Cabiri and the beholder Great Mother. The jar'taska are demons of shadow. The v'ang are insectoid demons. The nuyul are psionic "mind worms." The tanar'ri, the dominant race of the Abyss, are surely born from sin in all its exquisite variations. The loumara were born from the nightmares of a pantheon of dead gods, believed to have been the patrons of the Olman before the coming of Quetzalcoatl and his alleged kin. The gods died when they ripped the layer of the demon lord Azuvidexus from the Abyss; the Abyss lashed back, killing them all and pulling their corpses into the gulf where the layer had been. The Abyss has been feeding on their dreams for eons, excreting loumara as waste. Today the loumara are demons of possession, distorted echoes of the dead gods from whose dreams they were birthed. The essence of Azudivexus was banished to the Amedio Jungle in the reduced form of a half-fiendish dinosaur, his Abyssal layer compressed into the shape of the N'gharl Seed. The couatls descended from the Seven Heavens to help bind him, at least as best as they were able.

    Demogorgon
    The mandrill-headed Demogorgon is among the most ancient of tanar'ri, said in the Demonomicon of Iggwilv to have been created from the primal fears of all mortals by the Queen of Chaos herself. Even the ancient Suel did not reckon him among Beltar's Thousandbrood; rather, he was Beltar's mate, the sire of all the multitude of demons she spawned. And so it was in every culture in which Demogorgon was known, except among cultists of rival demon princes, Demogorgon was the Prince of Demons, the mightiest lord of the Abyss and chief symbol of all that the Abyss represents. Depictions of the fiend can be seen in hundreds of temples and manuscripts as the nemesis of the gods, sometimes alongside Asmodeus as the representative of Hell (who is also opposed by most of the gods, but frequently in myth helps the gods drive him off due to an ancient pact). In the Pale, stained glass windows portray Pholtus personally battling Demogorgon after the sun and moons were stolen by the hosts of Chaos. In Baklunish lands he is less recognized than demons such as Lamashtu, Pazuzu, Ahrimanes, Munkir, and Nekir. He is revered by mad pirates in the Densac Gulf, by the ancient people of the Flanmi River, by corrupt zara witch doctors among the dakons of the Amedio Jungle, by certain yuan-ti, by ancient troglodytes who ruled much of the Flanaess before the coming of the elves, by the kopru and their rivals, the ixitxachitl, and many more aberrant, insane, or reptilian creatures.

    Juiblex
    The Faceless Lord is worshiped by heretical aboleths, mad drow, and truly diseased humans dwelling in sewers beneath cities such as Greyhawk, Dyvers, and Rel Astra. He is believed to have been one of the patrons of the slug-slime creatures who inhabited the world of Oerth in the very early days, invading it from another reality even before Beory could get around to properly giving birth to the Animal Lords. He is nearly as ancient as Demogorgon; Ahm claimed he was even older, born from the infection in Chaos that the obyriths created while they were making the Abyss. He is a deadly rival of Zuggtmoy and also, somehow, her kin.

    Manes
    Manes are the lowliest of tanar'ri, created from wicked mortal souls. The most evil of them are confined to tiers of flames in Woeful Escarand, the home of the nalfeshnee Judges of Woe. Orcus is fond of transforming them into shadows or ghasts and unleashing them on the Prime Material Plane.

    Orcus
    The Demon Prince of the Undead was dead for centuries, killed by a rival (the demigoddess Kiaransalee, in vengeance for Orcus's long-forgotten hostage-taking of her children back in her mortal years over 31,000 years ago) shortly after his weakening by Saint Bane the Scourger. Orcus has recently returned to his throne, resurrected by his last priest, the half-ogre Quah-Nomag, formerly of Ull. Orcus has been busy recreating his mortal cult on Oerth, beginning with Drahulad, a city of vampire-led drow beneath the Crystalmist Mountains whose citizens had mostly been poached by his rival Baphomet. In the City of Greyhawk, Orcus's cult is led by Agarat Esiassen. Long fascinated by an idol of Orcus in his possession, Agarat - who had been a priest of Incabulos - converted to the faith of the Demon Prince of Undead when the idol woke following Orcus's resurrection. Orcus's following has surged in Ull and among some in Stonehold, where his servant Khuul the Witch-Ghoul once reigned, but competition from Nerull, Mictlantecuhtli, Iuz, Doresain, Mellifleur, Vecna, Kiaransalee, and other patrons of the undead has meant that Orcus's following is still small in most of the Flanaess. In the Abyss, though, he is among the mightiest of demon lords. His greatest rivals for the title of Prince of Demons are Demogorgon and Graz'zt.

    Succubus
    Demons of temptation, succubi were born from the sin of lust shortly after the obyriths were overthrown some 38,000 years ago or more, after the Battle of Pesh broke the armies of Chaos. The greatest queens of the succubi were Malcanthet, Lynkhab, Xinivrae, Shami-Amourae, and Beluiri. Lynkhab has fallen into dispair, Xinivrae was exiled, Shami-Amourae was imprisoned, and Beluiri became the favored consort of Baphomet, so after many wars and betrayals Malcanthet, consort of Demogorgon, has become supreme. Malcanthet is also a patron of House Maure in the Duchy of Urnst, along with Yeenoghu, Fraz-Urb'luu, and the mysterious 'Y,' who is possibly an alias of Hastur, the King in Yellow. Most succubi on Oerth were recently banished by the Crook of Rao, but some have begun creeping back.

    Vrock
    Vrocks are vulture demons, among the favored minions of the demon prince Pazuzu. Many came to Oerth with the demonic fortress Bloodcrystal in the ruins of Almor, though since the Crook of Rao's last usage they have been avoiding the world.

    Hezrou
    Hezrou are toad-demons, native to the Heaving Hills in the 67th layer of the Abyss, and favored by Demogorgon and Dagon, among others.

    Glabrezu
    Four-armed hound-demons, glabrezu offer power to mortals foolish enough to summon them. They are said to have been born from the sin of envy. They are native to the 383rd layer of the Abyss, Glabhelror, which is renowned for its college of conjuration and sorcery.

    Nalfeshnee
    Nalfeshnee are the lords of Woeful Escarand, self-proclaimed judges of mortal souls (though mortal souls appear first in the Plain of Infinite Portals and are dragged to the nalfeshnee only under duress; many other demon lords claim manes and larvae before the nalfeshnee can get to them). They are said to be descendants of the demon lord Tantagaras, who was killed by Kord in single combat. The most famous Nalfeshnee, however, is Tuerny, who was recently promoted to that form as a reward for his victories in the Blood War against the devils. Tuerny was, long ago, a prince of a pre-imperial Aerdy kingdom, probably centered around Rel Deven, the historical seat of Tuerny's house, the Crandens.

    Marilith
    The snaky marilith demons are native to the 531st layer of the Abyss, known as Vudra, and are also favored servants of the demon lords Abraxas and Graz'zt, among others. They are the greatest tacticians of the tanar'ri, and have formed a sort of triumverate with the balors and nalfeshnee to run the demonic side of the Blood War against devilkind.

    Balor
    Native, perhaps, to the 21st layer of the Abyss, known as the Sixth Pyre, balors are among the mightiest of demons. Many of them have set themselves up as lords of Abyssal layers in their own right; for example, Errtu, and Tarnhem, the father of Acererak. The balor Ter-Soth is a servant of Orcus, the balor Balor is a servant of Demogorgon, and the balor Wendonai played a key role in corrupting the drow. Wendonai's blood is said to flow within the veins of the drow nobility to this day.

    Yeenoghu
    Yeenoghu, the Demon Lord of Gnolls, also commands the allegiance of Doresain, the King of Ghouls. Yeenoghu is the lord of cannibals and necrophages, primarily worshiped by gnolls and by human cultists of the most depraved sort. His succubus minions tempt mortals into cannibalism and eating their own dead, and Yeenoghu's barbarous temptations have helped bring more than one ancient royal house to ruin. He is one of the patrons of House Maure of the Duchy of Urnst. His greatest rival is Baphomet, demon lord of minotaurs, with whom he shared a defeat some 1,500 years ago in Western Oerik.


    Last edited by rasgon on Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
    GreySage

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    Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:23 pm  

    Devils
    Although the field of diabology lacks scholars as infamous as Iggwilv or Tulket nor Ahm, it does have its own luminaries, including Ivenzen of Naelex and Ivid V's court wizard Karoolck. The tomes of the priesthood of Hextor are rich with diabolical lore.

    The standard reference of things diabolical is the Book of Fire (1), a Hextorian text said to be a translation of the original Book of Fire written by the infernal duke Adramalech. If this is true, the text most Hextorians know is substantially redacted, lacking the truenames Adramalech scribed into his own work, or the complex minutiae Adramalech gleaned from his many spies. What's more, the Hextorian Book of Fire is centuries, if not millennia, out of date; many of the archdevils and dukes described in that work have long since been deposed in one of the periodic coups and revolutions the Hells have known over the eons. Even so, the book's status as a sacred work in the Hextorian (and thus, for over a century, the Medegian) canon means it remains popular and, for many, unquestionable. It is often included in copies of the Book of Hextor, the most sacred work of Hextorian scripture, and claims that entities such as Geryon, Moloch, and Belial no longer rule in the Nine Hells are considered blasphemy by the faithful.(2)

    Curiously, the writings of Ivenzen make no mention of the Lords of the Nine. Apparently the Dark Eight were the highest-ranking devils of which he was aware. Perhaps this indicates that Ivenzen wrote shortly after the failed rebellion known as the Reckoning, when Asmodeus was making a deliberate effort to eradicate all knowledge of the rebellious archdevils from mortal knowledge, but even so it would be curious if a devout Hextorian such as Ivenzen had never read the Book of Fire. It's possible that Ivenzen revised his thoughts about the hierarchy of the Hells after his extensive communication with devils. Certainly the member of the Dark Eight that Ivenzen made his pact with, Baalzephon, had no desire to intimate to his new servant that there were devils higher-ranking than he.(3)

    Modern accounts of the diabolic hierarchy seem to come from one Willgan the Dogged, a scholar of unknown race and background whose burnt and tattered notes have been circulating among diabolists for decades. Karoolck certainly has a copy, as do the surviving hierarchs of the Horned Society. Willgan's journal lists the archdevils as Bel the Pit Fiend, Archduke Dispater, Count Minauros, Lady Fierana, Prince Levistus, Countess Malagard, Triel the Fallen, Baron Molikroth, and the Dark Lord of Nessus. Willgan lost much to gain this knowledge, including his life and his soul. And it is almost certainly badly outdated, with much that would be useful to know missing from his account.(4)

    Philogestes was an ancient scholar writing during the height of the Suel Imperium. An "accursed philosopher of evil," Philogestes was a member of the mysterious Society of the Serpent, an arcane fraternity that transcended national boundaries. As such, Philogestes had little loyalty to the Suloise pantheon in particular, concentrating more on the commonalities of the myths and legends he compiled in his research into the infernal. "The gods exist in multiplicity," he wrote, "but Asmodeus is unique." Although Philogestes' writings were destroyed during the Rain of Colorless Fire, lengthy summaries of his work were preserved by House Malhel and found their way into the scriptures of numerous wicked cults before the Silent Ones managed to cull them.(5)

    Philogestes' tale of the Pact Primeval has thus found its way into the more shadowy theologies across the Flanaess. Philogestes is believed to have written that the ancestors of devilkind were a race of angels who made common cause with the Wind Dukes of Aaqa during their war against the hosts of Chaos. After the war, the tanar'ri demons began to actively work to corrupt mortals, and Asmodeus suggested to the gods that a plane of punishment should be constructed in order to steer mortals back on the straight and narrow. The pact he made with the other gods is called the Pact Primeval, and it gives the hosts of Hell the authority to draw power from the torment of like-minded souls. In some versions of the tale, when the gods realized the Pact Primeval was a trick, they turned against Asmodeus and made war against him, driving Asmodeus and his hosts into the Nine Hells and imprisoning them there for all eternity. Yet the Pact Primeval remains and cannot be broken, so the devils continue to collect souls and tempt mortals into falling into their dominion.

    Asmodeus's reputation as a dealmaker and drafter of contracts doesn't end there. Dwarven mythology claims that when the world was forged, Asmodeus wrote the contract of creation. The pact of noninterference that means that most gods cannot interfere with the world directly and that devils can't enter the world unless summoned is also said to be Asmodeus's work. Even the imprisonment of Tharizdun is said to have had Asmodeus's aid, though theologians and diabolists alike disagree on whether Asmodeus was a mere angel at the time or something greater.(6) The Book of Incarum, that most sacred of Velunese holy texts, mentions Asmodeus locking away the Dark God, and perhaps this is evidence that the book truly is the words of Rao's servant, the solar Incarum, because why would a sacred Raoan text admit to a bargain between the gods and Asmodeus unless it was the truth? Asmodeus is depicted in the art and scripture of almost every good faith as the enemy of the gods; more than one stained glass window depicts Asmodeus and Rao sending their respective servants against each other.

    The idea that the Nine Hells is a place of fallen angels is commonplace in the myths of the goodly faiths. A standard myth told in Almor, the Pale, and Veluna alike is that when the gods decided to create the mortal races, some of the angels protested. They had been the cherished ones of the gods for so long, and they had fought demons and genies for the sake of the gods, so they felt betrayed when the gods made new, flawed vessels that the angels were expected to serve. The angels went to war with the gods and were cast down into Hell. Much later, a faction of rogue archons known as the Watchers were cast down for interfering too closely in the fates of mortals.(7) Now known as the Samyasan Host after Samyasa, their ancient leader, they too are imprisoned in Hell. Sages disagree on whether or not there were already devils in the Hells before any angels fell; some (such as Surrvaris) believe that when the first angels fell, Asmodeus was down there waiting, cackling at their misery, lords like Mephistopheles, Levistus, and Dispater eager to help render the fallen into lemures. More obscure texts, such as the Book of Inverted Darkness, tell of older diabolic races that preceded even Asmodeus and his kind, and a previous king called Zargon who Asmodeus overthrew.(8)

    Among the darker faiths, such as those of Hextor and Wee Jas, tales of fallen angels are given little credence. Hextorans might admit that one or two of the archdevils, such as Baalzebul, may have been corrupted celestials at one point, but for the most part they are convinced that Evil comes from Evil, not Good.(9) The vast majority of devils, they say, are descended from the same primal source of evil as all fiends, possibly associated in some way with the banished god Tharizdun. The mysterious entities that Hextorans name the Lords of Evil are credited with creating the first archdevils, assuming the Lords of Evil and the archdevils aren't, as some few Hextorans aver, one and the same. The notion that Hextor was granted his extra pairs of arms by Asmodeus and his cohorts is not mainstream Hextoran dogma, but neither is it necessarily considered heresy.(10)

    Rel Deven, a city known for its heretical cults, is the source for the Twin Serpents heresy, found in a work penned by a scholar known only as "Chrystos."(11) Chrystos himself is said (in his own introduction to his work) to have been originally from Rel Astra, but driven from that city due to his heretical beliefs by the priesthood of Hextor. Chrystos's tale is as follows: in the very beginning, when all the multiverse was yet in Chaos, order was brought to the Outer Planes by two greater deities, the Twin Serpents Jazirian and Ahriman, who were in the beginning intertwined, each tail in the mouth of the other. The two gods worked in concert until it came time for them to choose a center for the hub of the Great Wheel. Jazirian chose the Heavens while Ahriman chose the Hells, and their preferences were so irreconcilable that the two tore themselves asunder. Ahriman fell deep into the Hells, where his blood became the first pit fiends, while Jazirian flew into the Heavens, where his blood became the first couatls. This myth would be mostly forgotten if it weren't the direct inspiration for the Celestial Grindwheel heresy. In the latter heresy, penned a century ago by a Hextoran monk, Hextor and Heironeous are manifestations of that same primal cosmic order once personified by the Twin Serpents. The Serpents, in this heresy, are like discarded shells, no longer important in the modern cosmos, but Heironeous and Hextor are two aspects of the same cosmic principle or being, and together their battles maintain the balance of all things.

    The very possibly apocryphal Codex of Betrayal, written by one "Brother Eiulo," purports to have been written shortly after the founding of Hell by Asmodeus.(12) Brother Eiulo (who may not have even been human) claims to be the last follower of a deity that Asmodeus slew in his rebellion against the gods, a deity Brother Eiulo refuses to name, referring to him only as "He Who Was" or "He Who Once Lit Our Way." Clues within the text suggest this was an Oeridian deity; Eiulo's preoccupation with light suggests the deity might be some relative of Pholtus; the deity's role as a guide suggests he might have been the unknown father of Celestian and Fharlanghn. Both could easily be true, if one is to give this text any credence at all. Though ostensibly an unthinkably ancient work, it first surfaced only a few centuries ago in Rel Deven in the hands of a sage who claimed to have bought it from a blue-skinned merchant from another plane. Even so, some notable theologians, including the council of prelates in Almor, have declared it valid, and the text has gained a relatively wide circulation in temples throughout the Flanaess in recent years, and "He Who Once Lit Our Way" is mentioned in some versions of the Theogony of Embrosius and The Pantheon of Anda.

    Among the Baklunish, one of the most notorious scholars of things diabolical was the ancient conjurer Surrvaris, (13)who was supposed to have been born before the Invoked Devastation and lived until the reign of the legendary Pasha Daoud, who banished him to Hell after Daoud revealed his own impersonation by one of Surrvaris's genie minions. Shortly after, Surrvaris's attempt at blackmailing the hierarchy of Hell itself backfired as his partner in crime, the baatezu duke Jaqon, was exposed by Duke Phongor's inquisitors and banished to the wilds of Avernus. Surrvaris himself traced his tradition back to the ancient sorceress Ishtahar, who bedded the archon Samyasa and so began the chain of events that led the archon faction known as the Watchers to be banished to Hell for excessive interference in the fate of mortals. If Ishtahar lived on Oerth it was many thousands of years ago, before the Baklunish migrated to their current home.

    The writings of Surrvaris still exist; Iggwilv found some of them in the Vault of Daoud and even incorporated elements into her Nethertome. Surrvaris wrote extensively about each fiendish noble, inclusing secrets he had learned from Jaqon. Surrvaris believed that some of the archdevils (such as Baalzebul, Moloch, and Belial) were fallen angels, while others already ruled in Hell before the Primorgenial Rebellion or the Samyasan Host, having been formed from the mathematics of Hell itself or the blood of Asmodeus. He thought he could exploit the rivalry between those who were "true devils born" and those who were fallen angels, but - as Iggwilv pointed out in her notes - if his information was so good, why did he end up disgraced, with his spirit imprisoned in a skull? Perhaps this is part of the reason that Iggwilv decided to focus on demon-conjuring instead.

    History
    Devils have surely been tempting the mortal races for almost as long as they have existed. Evidence of interference by the devils in human history can be found in the ancient Flan civilizations along the Veng and Trask Rivers. The devil-worshipping House of Balmok temporarily conquered the Suel Empire, thereby triggering the Eight-House War of 1100 SD.(14) Aerdi sages are certain they see the signature of the exiled archdevil Gargauth in the destruction of Tostenhca in the Griff Mountains, with the characteristic cursed gold and manipulation of corrupt rulers, playing to the love of power and greed.(15)

    Footnotes:
    1. First mentioned in "The Nine Hells Part II" by Ed Greenwood, in Dragon #76.
    2. This is meant to explain the disconnect between Geryon and Moloch being described as current rulers in 1st edition, and as former rulers who were deposed centuries earlier in late 2nd edition.
    3. This was the state of affairs in early 2nd edition, when Ivid the Undying was published. At the time, the Dark Eight were officially considered (by TSR) the highest-ranking devils known to mortals.
    4. Willgan the Dogged, and the list of archdevils from this paragraph, are both from Colin McComb's article "The Lords of the Nine" in Dragon #223. Although retconned and altered since then, it essentially establishes Lords of the Nine as they still appear today.
    5. Philogestes was mentioned in Fiendish Codex II, though not as a Suel. The quote is from that book, and the myth (more or less - that book didn't mention the Wind Dukes).
    6. And here I'm dropping in some of the ideas about Asmodeus from Pathfinder's world of Golarion.
    7. The Watchers, or Grigori, are from traditional angelology. They're mentioned briefly in Planes of Law, but the version told here is mostly from The Book of Fiends: Legions of Hell by Chris Pramas.
    8. Zargon is from B4: The Lost City by Tom Moldvay. It was 3e's Elder Evils that made him Asmodeus's deposed predecessor.
    9. This is the stance taken in Planescape's Hellbound: The Blood War.
    10. This idea is from Tal Meta.
    11. Guide to Hell by Chris Pramas.
    12. This is from Ari Marmell's 4th edition articles on devilkind, published on WotC's paysite.
    13. Surrvaris is mentioned in the article "Tuerny the Merciless" by Rick Miller and Mike Bridges in Oerth Journal #25. Most of the detail here is by me, inspired by the legend of the demon Asmodai and King Solomon.
    14. I made this up, but note that the word "Balmok" (later a byword for 'tyrant') forms the root of the Suloise word for beholders, a word that I also made up. The Eight-House War was mentioned in Roger E. Moore's "Legacies of the Suel Imperium" in Dragon #241.
    15. Gargauth originated (as Gargoth) in "The Nine Hells Revisited" by Ed Greenwood, but a lot of the detail on him comes from Eric Boyd's Powers and Pantheons. Someday I'm going to write an article on how Gargauth is responsible for the fall of Tostenhca.
    GreySage

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    Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:35 pm  

    Eternal Master.

    The recent spate of murders throughout your city have been solved. The actual crimes themselves were no difficulty to unriddle; it was as if the perpetrator wanted to be found. As, indeed, it turned out that he did.

    The perpetrator was one Garlant the Gaunt, of the Conclave Arcanum (1) in Dyvers. It was in Dyvers where Gilliard DeRosan (2), one of the Gentry of the City of Sails, recruited him into the now-international cabal known as the Horned Society.

    Garlant, one of a society of magi long on the decline and notoriously desperate for attention and a sense of importance, accepted DeRosan's contract without hesitation. To belong to an international cabal intent on subverting the governments of the world was exactly the sort of glorious endeavor that he lacked in his day-to-day life in his guild's Academy of Sorcery or in his required service to the city of Dyvers. He did not serve the Horned Society long, however, before he learned he had made a terrible mistake.

    DeRosan was a noble whose family traced itself back to the city's Aerdi founders. He was an obscenely wealthy owner of vast estates in the Free Lands of Dyvers and one of the most powerful members of Dyvers' Gentry even before he became initiated into the newest incarnation of the Horned Society. The cult of Asmodeus that he headed had deep roots in the City of Sails' upper crust, drawing many wealthy merchants and nobles into its embrace, whoever seemed to have the right combination of hunger for power, utter lack of scruples, and useful connections. When they became part of the Horned Society, the ambition of DeRosan's cult only grew. No longer did they seek merely to gain complete control over Dyvers, but now, as part of (and, they intended, future leaders of) the Horned Society, they sought nothing less than conquest of the entire world.

    They assigned Garlant simple tasks at first: a curse applied here, a magical weapon created there. But as they brought him deeper into their plans, they demanded a test of loyalty: he would sacrifice his own son to Asmodeus, or he himself would be the sacrifice.

    Shocked to his core, Garlant did as they asked. But something changed in him. Too terrified of their retribution to openly defy them, he became more reckless. Much more reckless. His crimes became appalling, gratuitous acts of carnage more like one would associate with a demon cultist instead of the subtle, untraceable acts typical of an Asmodeus cultist. It was as if he wanted to be caught. And as he revealed in the journal I now hold in my hands, he did.

    Garlant died, shrieking like a berserker, attacking a squad of my best sorcerers with his bare hands. The journal, tucked in his pocket, was brought directly to me. I know if I act on the knowledge I've gained, the rest of Garlant's family will shortly turn up dead, if only to give credence to the cult's threats against the rest of its members. Has Garlant, in saving what remained of his own soul, damned mine? So be it.

    Regards,
    Scaros of Garasteth,
    Lord Constable by the grace of Prince Drax of Rel Astra

    Footnotes:
    1. Called the Academy of Sorcery in Slavers, Dyvers' mage guild was given the more impressive name Conclave Arcanum in Oerth Journal #3. I made the Academy of Sorcery the name of one of the buildings the Conclave controls, though as described in OJ #3 they control others as well, including a mansion on one of the islands of the city's River Quarter.

    2. Gilliard DeRosan, a priest of Asmodeus who rules over a cult of nobles and merchants, was detailed in the Book of Vile Darkness. Connecting him to both Dyvers and the Horned Society was my idea.
    Paladin

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    Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:02 pm  

    The attention to detail and the reference ties to both old and new information once again Rasgon shows us why he is a CF Grandmaster...
    GreySage

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    Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:16 am  

    Thanks, but I think it's just because I've posted a lot!
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Fri Dec 02, 2011 2:26 am  

    Nah. I think it is because that is a clever, creative little story. Cool
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:50 am  

    Once Rasgon has worked his way through the MM this needs to be collected and put up on the sight as a download, if he agrees of course. This stuff is just too good to be clattering around on a thread.
    GreySage

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    Sun Dec 04, 2011 2:50 pm  

    Baalzebul
    The Lord of the Flies is obsessed with perfection and beauty, an ironic habit considering that in any of his known forms he is among the most hideous of archdevils to mortal eyes. He is depicted, in various grimoires, as a man with the head of a fly (or a helmet shaped like a fly's head), a fly with the head of a man, a swarm of flies hovering in the shape of a dark angel, or as a gargantuan maggot, glistening with slime and filth. The journal of Willgan the Dogged claims that Baalzebul was once a throne archon known as Triel, cast from the heavens for the sins of hubris and pride. Supposedly Triel had been attempting to create a city in the heavens greater than Yetsirah, the infinite ziggurat found on the summit of the celestial mountain, but he resorted to illusion and deception to make his city seem greater than it was, even sending servants to secretly spoil the beauty of Yetsirah before his plot was exposed. Surrvaris credits cunning Belial with leading Triel into corruption; Chrystos named the demon lord Ahrimanes, who Triel played a role in banishing before his own fall. The Codex of Betrayal has Baalzebul as a general during the Primogenial Rebellion against the gods, while Willgan implied his fall was later.

    Baalzebul is one of the most powerful of the archdevils; the degenerate tomes of his cultists often claim he is ruler of all the Hells, and some myths of the Suel insist he did gain that status briefly, after a coup against an earlier infernal king. He ruled two layers of the plane before the coup against his vassal Moloch caused him to lose control of one of them.

    Baalzebul is revered in distant Mur under the name Balim, and his cultists have been seen throughout the world, from the teeming markets of Lopolla to the squallid village of Ulbakak in the Bright Desert to the northern tyranny of Eastfair to the pirate city of Scuttlecove. Lawful bugbears find him to be the most appealing of the archdevils to their violent, duplicitous tastes. Baalzebul's worshipers are the rot in the fruit, usurpers and plotters of coups. When a cult of Baalzebul-worshipers succeeds in corrupting a realm utterly, the church of Asmodeus typically takes control, sending the Baalzebulites elsewhere. It seems something in Baalzebul's character makes him eternally ambitious, but always falling short of the perfection he seeks; the rot is always there in all his works, preventing that which he builds from lasting. Still, Asmodeus finds him useful. It is appropriate, then, that a worshiper of Baalzebul is currently the secret master of the Horned Society, a landless organization dedicated to corrupting and overthrowing the governments of the Flanaess, though worshipers of Asmodeus wait within that secret society for their turn.

    Geryon
    Some recent optimistic texts hastily scribed in the otherworldly city of Sigil in the wake of Glasya's coup against the Hag Countess of Malbolge have pronounced this archdevil dead (1), but this seems to have been overly optimistic. Even with his Citadel Coldsteel on the plane of Stygia fallen in a raid by mortal adventurers (2), Geryon survives, at last report an exile on the plains of Avernus (3).

    Geryon was not the first devil to rule Stygia, but he seems to be as ancient as any of them. The Codex of Betrayal claims he was not originally one fallen angel, but three, the last survivors of an attack on the Abyss (on the realm of Graz'zt, some whisper, or Abraxas). The wounded angels were knitted together into a single, serpentine being, alive but in constant pain until healed by Asmodeus at the cost of his eternal damnation. On the other hand, the Book of Hextor insists Geryon was always a devil, a creation of the Lords of Evil like all the others - ancient Baklunish texts name him Behemoth, eternal enemy of the archdevil Leviathan.

    Regardless, Geryon ruled the fifth circle of Hell for thousands of years. The earliest records of the Suel list him among the patrons of House Balmok. He seems to have been the original patron of a prehuman civilization on the Trask River named Stygia in honor of Geryon's otherplanar realm. In modern times, he is revered by those diabolists who seek to honor the more bestial elements of their being, including vile hunters and barbarians, gnolls and minotaurs and bugbears and lamiae and centaurs, and some remnants among the serpentine races such as medusae and yuan-ti who have not been poached by Mammon. Geryon is the chief competitor of Baphomet and Yeenoghu among the orderly fiends, targeting the same humanoids as they. Geryon's bestial reputation does him a disservice, however; he is as cunning as a serpent, and in ancient times when he still ruled a circle of Hell his servants included nobles and kings.

    Notes
    1. 3rd edition Tome of Magic and Fiendish Codex II.
    2. A Paladin in Hell by Monte Cook (2nd edition).
    3. 4th edition's Manual of the Planes lists Geryon among living, exiled archdevils. I certainly think he's more useful alive than as a vestige.
    GreySage

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    Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:42 pm  

    Dinosaur
    These antediluvian beasts are commonly known as behemoths (a Common word of Baklunish origin, originally meaning something like "great beasts"); the word "dinosaur" is a Suel word that originally referred to the terrible lizards born from Beltar's womb, the firstborn of her Thousandbrood in Suel mythology. "Behemoth" is also an ancient name for the archdevil Geryon, but this is used uncommonly enough today that there is little confusion.

    Dinosaurs are universally agreed to be part of an earlier creation preceding the modern age. Drawmij writes of an Age of Thunder that preceded the Age of Giants. Theologians teach that the reptilian races were corrupt and unworthy, having become servants of Demogorgon and other ancient demons, and the gods washed them away in a great deluge or froze them in an age of ice unleashed by Telchur (giants claim the disaster was brought down by their god Stronmaus or, alternately, Ymir). In Suel myths, the dinosaurs were the first of the Thousandbrood to war against the gods, and only after the gods had wiped them out did Beltar bear new children, too small to be easy targets. Drawmij claims they are all descended from a single creature he names the thecodont, though outside Drawmij's chronomantic divinations there is little evidence for this. The Skeptics of Urnst have long held that the dinosaurs were degenerate children of the dragons, their blood diluted by mating with dumb beasts, and ultimately wiped out by the dragons themselves.

    The exact order of ancient eras is, in this late era, unclear. Certainly many reptilian races - including lizard men, troglodytes, and serpent people - still dominated the Flanaess when the elves first arrived, a time which most agree was after (or perhaps during) the age of the giants. The dinosaurs, however, seem to have been already wiped out by that time. Whether dinosaurs were creations of the gods known today or some earlier generation destroyed in a war against the creators of the giants is likely to remain maddeningly unclear as long as the current gods are around to discourage investigations into their own origins.

    Those dinosaurs that survive have only been encountered in remote regions such as the Isle of Dread and the otherworldly Isle of the Ape, or in the form of bones buried deep in the earth. A few have somehow ended up in the Amedio Jungle, perhaps associated with the fallen demon lord Azuvidexus. Demogorgon's realm in the Abyss still teams with dinosaurs, many of which have demonic blood. In at least one parallel world in the spectrum of alternate material planes, dinosaurs never died out and still rule.

    Displacer beast
    Displacer beasts are believed by the blink dogs to be creations of an ancient obyrith demon, a sibriex, who spliced together organs from beasts of chaos, panthers, xill, and the hounds of law to create a servitor race that would deceive those servants of Law who might encounter it. The blink dogs, terrestrial descendants of the hounds of law, are their eternal enemies. See the blink dog entry for more. Other cultures have their own origin myths, from the reliable Thousandbrood of Beltar to the demon queen Lamashtu to suggestions they may have been accidentally summoned by Baron Lum.

    Djinni
    The genie races are older than the world. When the elemental planes were wild and unformed, the Baklunish teach (and most other cultures agree to some degree, although none emphasize the role of the genies as the Baklunish do) that the gods shaped the magic of creation into humanoid form to help bring structure to the elemental chaos. In the beginning, the genies (known sometimes as jinn, collectively) were a single race, all of them faithful servants of the gods who shaped them. They were granted (or, in some interpretations, born from) a powerful form of magic, the wish, to aid the gods in the task of bringing order to the elements as they created the world. The arrival of the jinn on the still-forming Material Plane did not end the Age of the First Folk, but it brought order to what was once utter wildness.

    The jinn ruled the world for nine thousand years, taming the spirits of air, fire, water, and earth enough so that plants and animals could exist. Then genies rebelled against the gods, no longer satisfied with being servants of the gods but determined to rule in their own right. Some myths suggest the genies took advantage of a war of the gods against their own elders before they decided to strike. One myth names the leader of the jinn insurgency as Gian ben Gian (1), who was finally defeated by a solar called Iblis. Another myth (2) claims that Iblis was the rebel leader, infuriated that the gods had created mortals to replace the genies. Still another myth (3) claims the war was only delayed by a clever maiden who was desired by each of the four rulers of geniekind as well as the gods; the maiden was tutored by Istus to infinitely delay deciding who among them would win her. The gods and genies await the maiden's decision before they resume their ancient conflict.

    Be that as it may, genies today do worship gods, so perhaps the gods they fought at the beginning of time have now vanished into obscurity, and the present generation is acceptable to them. Mostly they revere elemental lords and princes, but deities such as Fharlanghn, Phaulkon, Velnius and the other Oeridian wind gods, Remnis, and Aerdrie Faenya appeal to the djinn. Some djinn speak of an ancient human prophet known as the Loregiver who converted them to their present faith.

    Drawmij has suggested, in a paper submitted to the Circle of Eight, that it wasn't the gods the genies warred against at all, but the Wind Dukes who brought order to the Inner Planes in a time before any of the gods known today existed. In Drawmij's theory, the genies had either been created by the Wind Dukes as servants or been conquered by them, and at least some of them turned against their masters to fight with the hordes of Chaos. The City of Brass does, in its oldest areas beneath the present metallic construction, resemble the architecture found in surviving Wind Duke ruins such as the City of Glass and the citadels of the Storm Kings on the plane of Arcadia. Alhamazad the Wise and Nystul left that presentation in disgust, but the others, particularly Mordenkainen, were intrigued by Drawmij's theory.

    After the war ended and the genies were brought to heel, a variety of myths explain how the present diversity of genie races came to being. Most say that the gods banished the genies to the Elemental Planes (and elsewhere: one genie race is said to live on the Plane of Shadow, one remains on the Material Plane, while another race, who never forsook the gods, wanders the Upper Planes where the gods live), no longer requiring their aid in ordering the mortal world. Their ability to grant wishes was modified so that they could only grant such wonders to the mortals that replaced them as masters of the world. The genies slowly found ways to escape their banishment, luring mortals to release them from the lamps, rings, and bottles in which the gods had bound them, but they had grown too much of an affinity with their respective planes to leave them for long.

    The war between the djinn and the efreet may, according to Drawmij, have begun with the wars between the Wind Dukes and Chaos, with the djinn remaining loyal to the Wind Dukes while the efreet turned against them (or, perhaps, vice versa). Some legends among the genies themselves, however (2), state that the war began when an efreeti sultan drove the djinn from the City of Brass, which had originally been intended as a home for all geniekind. Peace between them was brokered when a djinni princess married the efreeti prince, but this was broken some 8,000 years ago, when a usurper took the efreeti throne.(4)

    Notes
    1. In Legions of Hell by Chris Pramas.
    2. In Necromancer Games' City of Brass.
    3. In the Land of Fate boxed set, except it said Fate instead of Istus.
    4. This legend is also from City of Brass. The 8,000 year date is the the time of war between the djinn and efreet in Calimshan on Toril; I thought it was as good a date for the resumption of the efreet-djinn war across the planes as any.


    Last edited by rasgon on Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:39 pm; edited 3 times in total
    GreySage

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    Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:32 pm  

    Very, very,... very,... very good show, Rasgon, old chap!

    (Now read that again imagining John Cleese saying it. Razz )

    Excellent creative fodder for any DM wanting to add spice to the opponents he throws at his Greyhawk PCs.

    SirXaris
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    Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:22 am  

    Impressive, like always!
    In case you accept "requests", would you write something about Raxivort?
    GreySage

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    Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:10 am  

    MToscan wrote:
    Impressive, like always!
    In case you accept "requests", would you write something about Raxivort?


    Uh, sure. I wrote this a while ago and posted it on a different message board. It has Raxivort in it and it'll maybe tide you over until I get to xvarts. It's based on the 4th edition explanation for what xvarts are, so it may not be to everyone's tastes.

    Ahem.

    Xvarts
    The fomorian city of Bealach Cúm (1) traded gnome slaves to the Queen of Air and Darkness in exchange for quickling servants, a common practice in the days before the city's destruction.

    The Brood Mothers were the most powerful coven of night hags in those days. They were the original creators of the broodswarms (2), and it is said they created at least one of the mighty altraloths. They looked on the enormous profit the slave trade was earning the fomorians, and became determined to seize control of it. They visited the gnomish slaves in their dreams and made them an offer: freedom from their fomorian masters. Being night hags as opposed to, say, baatezu, they felt no need to reveal the catch or even their true identities. Their claim on the gnome souls was just as sure. With the aid of their gnome thralls, the Brood Mothers completed a magical working that tore Bealach Cúm from Faerie and into the Plane of Shadow.

    The fomorians, former masters of the city, for the most part died, their essences transformed into the undead entities known as slow shadows. A few of them were saved by the night hags, used as raw material for their experiments in the shaping of flesh. The gnomes did not, of course, escape the hags' loving care. The gnomes had already been altered by the fomorians, the process of transforming them into spriggans already began. The hags twisted them further, making their skin the deep blue of annis hags, their eyes a vivid orange that shone even in the dimness of Shadow. These former gnomes had become a new species, variously known as svarts, xvarts, and xivarts. Clever, sneaky, and thoroughly vicious, the Brood Mothers believed this race to be the perfect servants for their particular clientele, and began reestablishing the trade that had been cut off with the detruction of Bealach Cúm.

    The Queen of Air and Darkness did accept some of these new slaves, but the Brood Mothers were hardly satisfied with a single client. They sold some back to the fomorians, who sold some to hobgoblin chiefs, but the hags traded most frequently with the Abyss. The Abyss offered goods no other plane could: the manes the hags needed to make the broodswarms that were their signature creation. In the Abyss, the most eager buyer of these shadow-tainted former gnomes was the Prince of Shadows, Graz'zt.

    Graz'zt, for his part, found the xvarts delightful minions. Their nondemonic nature allowed him to make use of them in the domains of his enemies, who would quickly sense demonic presences, and on the Material Plane where demons would attract unwanted attention. As they were individually weak, Graz'zt used them as petty spies and saboteurs, but his clever plans ensured that his wicked influence grew wherever the xvarts were sent.

    In order to control the wild creatures, Graz'zt recruited the strongest and most intelligent of them to command the rest. Of the many leaders of the xvart, one was cleverer and stronger than any of the rest. With mission after mission a success, whether it was to harass the peoples of the Material Plane or to spy on rival lords of the Abyss, Raxivort soon rose to leadership of all of Graz'zt's xvarts.

    At this point, Graz'zt decided it wouldn't do for anyone else to gain any of what had become his signature minions. Raxivort was sent at the head of a guerilla army to the ruins of Bealach Cúm, where after a fast campaign they eliminated the Brood Mothers utterly, ending the planar trade in xvarts. Graz'zt rewarded Raxivort with the title of Master of Slaves, putting all of his thralls under the crafty xvart's command.

    Raxivort remained apparently loyal to Graz'zt, his lifespan extended by Graz'zt's demonic power, for centuries. It was only when Graz'zt was defeated by the witch-queen Iggwilv, his weakened essence thrown back to the Abyss, that Raxivort struck, leading Graz'zt's own slave-armies against their master. Even weakened as he was, Graz'zt was no easy prey, and he mustered his loyal supporters. The battle went on for months, but finally Raxivort called a truce and fled to Pandemonium, bringing with him a considerable amount of Graz'zt's treasure. The xvarts who had been under Graz'zt's command were set free; Raxivort had already been nearly godlike to them already, and now their worship transformed Raxivort into a true god.

    In the present day, many xvarts across the planes have converted to the growing faith of Raxivort, though older settlements sometimes cling to the old ways. Xvart society is often similar to that of the goblins and kobolds the race is lumped together and shares territory with, although elements of gnomish culture, including the gnomish habits of trickery and deception, remain.

    Notes
    1. I made up the name. It's a fomorian city, deep beneath the surface on the plane of Faerie rather than Oerth proper. In 2nd edition terms, it'd be a Fading Land.
    2. Petty demons created by night hags, from Fiendish Codex I.


    Last edited by rasgon on Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
    GreySage

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    Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:00 pm  

    Dog
    Flan myth states that dogs once served the Wolf Lord, but rejected him in order to serve humanity. The leader of the rebel dogs, Roofdrak, would become an Animal Lord in his own right.

    Dogs have been companions of humans and other races since prehistoric times. Elves claim to have domesticated their cooshees before humans had figured out fire, but archaeological evidence implies that humans were actually the first species to domesticate the dog, with the first cooshees only appearing relatitively recently, after the first wars with the ancestors of the drow. Crossbreeds of cooshee and greyhounds are common in the Duchy and County of Ulek, although elven breeders view them with distaste.

    Wolf barbarians eschew dogs, keeping wolves as companions; capturing and taming a wolf is a rite of manhood among the barbarians. Dire wolves are especially prized, but harder to catch and harder to domesticate. The tiger barbarians sometimes adopt white tigers as companions, but these creatures are rarer, and capturing them is not expected of all adults of this society.

    The Rovers of the Barrens value dogs, many of which have hybridized extensively with wolves. They are typically wolf-sized intelligent creatures with upright pointed ears and gray and white patterned fur. They are commonly used as working dogs, pulling loads for the Rovers.

    In the Sea of Dust, a githzerai citadel was destroyed by githyanki and their red dragons, leaving some of the githzerai szarkel dogs to go wild. These adaptable dogs, used to thriving in pure chaos, have managed to survive and expand their numbers in the harsh conditions of the Sea of Dust, and a number of packs now roam the area. Some have interbred with the lanky, cream-colored dogs common among the Sea of Dust peoples.

    The ferocious yeshir, said to have been bred by the ancient Suel to hunt halflings for sport, does not survive in the Sea of Dust, though the Scarlet Brotherhood is said to have preserved this breed.

    Orcish war dogs are mongrel creatures, typically inflicted with the blood of the hideous, batlike xotzcoyotl dogs of the Underdark and the worgs favored by the goblin races. Observers have speculated that some may somehow have non-canine creatures such as boars and hyenas somewhere in their ancestry, though even the orcs can't say for sure if this is true. Orcs keep dogs for purposes other than that of war, including hunting dogs, work dogs, food, and even pets. Most orc encampments have mongrels of a variety of species and types wandering around, though the xotzcoyotl-worg mix is common. Such creatures are not as clever as true worgs; human jokes vary on whether orc dogs are dumber than ordinary dogs, smarter than their masters, or both.

    Despite popular jokes to the contrary, kobolds have no particular affinity with dogs, and their yipping language does not help them to communicate with the beasts. Due to their small size, kobolds are often terrified of the creatures.

    Dog references:
    "Hounds of Space and Darkness" - Dragon #117
    "Man's Best Friend" - Dragon #237
    "A Collection of Canines" - Dragon #102
    "A Dozen Domestic Dogs" - Dragon #103
    3e Arms and Equipment Guide
    "Beasts of the Scarlet Brotherhood" - Dungeon #106
    GreySage

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    Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:10 pm  

    rasgon wrote:
    Flan myth states that dogs once served the Wolf Lord, but rejected him in order to serve humanity.


    Ahh! So dogs chose to be man's "bestest" friend! Happy

    Too cool. Cool

    Very nice, Rasgon. As always. Wink
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    Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:29 pm  

    SirXaris wrote:
    Bravo, Rasgon! That was a good read. Happy

    SirXaris

    SECOND THAT
    Best yet..... Beholders have always been a favorite denizen that (IMO) does not get its due.
    Once again Rasgon demonstrates why he should also be known as Lord Rasgon Greyhawk Master Sage. Exclamation Happy
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    Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:26 am  

    rasgon wrote:

    Uh, sure. I wrote this a while ago and posted it on a different message board. It has Raxivort in it and it'll maybe tide you over until I get to xvarts. It's based on the 4th edition explanation for what xvarts are, so it may not be to everyone's tastes.

    Ahem.


    Thank you very much, it gave a lot of food for thought for my campaign. One of the characters is a tielfing which I figured out was the daughter of some greater Raxivort demon. I have a few ideas already...
    I recall Raxivort was also a demon lord of rats, am I mistaken?
    GreySage

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    Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:13 am  

    Yes, Raxivort's portfolio includes rats, wererats, and bats. I'd been slow in talking about that part, because it required me to write an article on wererats. But anyway, here's a little more on Raxivort.

    How Raxivort took the power of the blue flame
    The tall, emaciated albino demon regarded his master with empty scarlet eyes. "Alzrius isn't like the other princes," he warned. "He is pure fire, chaos, and hate. If he were ever a common demon, everything tanar'ric was purged from his nature aeons ago. He manifests the burning of everything. His thoughts are profoundly alien. He contains multitudes, his essence scattered throughout his servants. His actions will be impossible to predict."

    Graz'zt only smiled. He folded his six-fingered hands together, one finger at a time, seeming to take pleasure in the sight of his own digits. "Verin," he instructed the albino. "I am the very lord of Chaos. My mind dances more wildly than any flame. Believe me, I can outthink a fire."

    Verin came to Conflagratum to meet with the lord of that Abyssal realm, Alzrius. It was believed that Alzrius had a palace somewhere in the fiery layer and a throne of bloodiron within a vast brazier, where his servants endlessly dropped flammable sacrifices to feed his eternal hunger. Verin had no need to travel that far, however; he strode calmly to a horde of lowly manes trapped within one of the layer's countless pits of fire. The manes looked up at him, grimacing in mute agony, and the fires that crowned their charred heads spoke in a thousand crackling voices. They were not syncronized by any means; the voices clamored and echoed, interrupting each other, some speaking the same or similar words minutes or hours after the others. Some whispered and some screamed. All of their voices were the voice of their lord Alzrius, of whose diffuse intellect each flame was a part. They spoke of their hunger, their rage, their pain, their thirst for conquest and how they would burn the interloper Verin to ash. Then Verin mentioned the balor Zirphyrus, who had once been Alzrius's servant, and they would speak of nothing and no one else.

    Verin spoke in Graz'zt's name. He offered to slay Zirphyrus, who had stolen part of Alzrius's power and twisted it into cold blue flame. Occupying a nearly vacant volcanic layer, Zirphyrus now sought to use that power to transform himself into a demon lord in his own right, the so-called Lord of Blue Flame. Graz'zt would have him slain, Verin promised, in exchange for certain concessions from Alzrius. Graz'zt desired control over the Obsidian Plains that Zirphyrus now claimed, as well as an amulet that Alzrius had created long ago during his occupation of the world of Ortho.

    Not all of the flaming manes agreed to Graz'zt's conditions, but enough of them did that Verin decided to call it a deal.

    Raxivort was in the breeding-pits of Allagash, supervising the creation of more servants for his lord Graz'zt. The details of the process were unspeakable. A succubus rose from the mess, seeming to form from the noxious effluvia. "Our master has a mission for you," the creature said in a flat, emotionless voice. Raxivort snarled, briefly, but abandoned his task, heading toward what looked like an oven full of green fire, which he knew was a portal that led directly to Graz'zt's palace.

    Graz'zt was perfunctory to his servant, granting him a crooked steel falchion dweomered so that it would steal the powers of any demon it slew, permanently absorbing the demonic energy into the metal.

    Golden eyes gleamed in the darkness on the volcanic plain of the balor Zirphyrus, the self-proclaimed Lord of Blue Flame. Zirphyrus's fortress was in the volcano itself, glowing with vivid blue heat. Raxivort, flanked by his strongest warriors, crept in subtly, deep blue shadows against the black igneous rock. Wrapped in cloaks of invisiblity, with feet silenced by drow-fashioned shoes, the xvarts slipped past Zirphyrus's defenses and Raxivort struck with his dweomered blade.

    What happened next is a matter of dispute. According to the cult of Graz'zt, the blade absorbed the balor's power, becoming suffused with blue flame. When he raided Graz'zt's treasure later on, Raxivort made certain he seized the bluefire blade. It became his signature weapon and, when he passed the threshold from mortality to divinity, the blue flame became a natural part of his reperoire of powers. According to another account favored by the xvarts, Raxivort ground up part of the sword and swallowed its filings, thereby transferring the blade's ability to absorb demonic power to his own body. When he assassinated Zirphyrus, he gained the balor's power himself, and the blade was merely the channel through which he did so.

    Lycanthrope
    Lycanthropes are properly known as therianthropes.

    Throughout the Flanaess, many will swear up and down that therianthropy was first brought to the continent by the Rhennee - at least, werewolves, wererats, foxwomen, seawolves, and weresharks are all said to be the result of Rhennee curses, brought with them from whatever benighted realm originally cast them out. According to the most elaborate forms of this rumor, each therianthrope corresponds to a specific Rhennee tribe.

    This is all patent libel. All these forms of therianthropy have existed in the Flanaess for many thousands of years, since even before the migrations of the Flan. For the true origin of therianthropy, one must look on another plane altogether, to the happy hunting grounds where the Animal Lords have reigned since the end of the Age of the First Folk.

    When the Animal Lords first came to the plane known to some as the Beastlands, they lived together in a wild harmony where the cycle of predator and prey was in perfect balance, and all was as Nature intended. Then came a taint to the dreaming - perhaps this was the result of mortal fears directly changing the nature of the animal archetypes, or perhaps it was the result of the intervention of some lower planar being (some have suggested Incabulos). Regardless, change came to the Happy Hunting Grounds, and the Wolf Lord, Daragor, became twisted into evil.

    Now no mere predator, but a monster obsessed with blood and carnage, the Wolf Lord began murdering his rivals and leaving their bodies to rot. He struck first at the Dog Lord who had rejected him in favor of humanity; Roofdrak the Dog Lord survived, barely, but many of his followers did not.

    As the Wolf Lord's slaughter spread, so did the taint that had overwhelmed him. The Fox Lord, Eshebala, soon fell into corruption as well, as did the Rat Lord, Squerrik, who began murdering and devouring with as much gusto as any of them.

    Opposing them were Balador, the Bear Lord, and the Cat Lord of that era, Ferrix. The violence caused by Balador and Ferrix in opposing them almost equalled the violence caused by Daragor, Eshebala, and Squerrik. Eventually the plane itself (or the gods who dwelled there) could take no more, and the most persistent warriors and their followers were cast out. New animal lords were chosen to replace the old ones - Rexfelis and Rexlupus, the Mouse King, Brother Bear and Brother Fox - and balance was restored to the plane.

    The exiles, for their part, scattered throughout the multiverse. Balador and Ferrix became servants of Obad-hai and Beory, while Squerrik built a throne of bones and rubbish in a tangled warren in Gehenna, Eshebela laired in the Abyss, and Daragor wandered the wilds in between. Far from the natural lands, with only a small core of loyalists with them, the exiled animal lords languished.

    Then something changed. So long ago that the time has no name in this era, the ancient Flan (or perhaps one of the prehuman Rujari) suffered under an unjust king who razed their lands and burnt their forests. The people were led by druids and revered the Animal Lords and other spirits of nature, and filled with anguish and fury they called upon their patrons for help. While the Animal Lords seldom deign to aid humanity, something answered - the exiled former lords of the beasts, who sent the corrupted beast spirits who served them into the bodies of the druidic people, making of them new beings capable of taking both human and bestial form. These first therianthropes overthrew their king, devouring him and scattering throughout the lands. So the story goes, in any case.

    According to this theory, most therianthropes are descendants of these originals. Therianthropy is contagious only if an unincarnate beast spirit is available to possess a new host. While there are many rat spirits, for example, there are not so many that wererats could convert every human on Oerth, or even in a major city, to their kind. They must conserve their resources and convert only those in advantageous positions in human society.

    Wererats
    Wererats are most associated with urban areas, and wererat broods exist beneath Greyhawk City, Niole Dra, Zeif, Womthan, Rauxes, Dyvers, Eastfair, Lopolla, Thornward, Rel Astra, Molag, Seltaran, and elsewhere.

    It's hard to imagine wererats outside of urban areas where they can build squallid temples in the city sewers, but rats are nothing if not adaptable, and many can be found in rural areas as well, forming agricultural cults in remote areas, worshiping Squerrik and Raxivort as grain gods. In recent centuries, they've been particularly active in targeting the Rhennee for conversion.

    Wererats worship their patron deity, Squerrik, who was once the Rat Lord before his exile. Many also sacrifice to Incabulos, either to ward off the diseases that thrive in their environment or to embrace them. The cult of Incabulos is particularly endemic among the wererats of Greyhawk City, who under the leadership of priests of Incabulos like Kelas Arnad plot to infect the entire metropolis. There are those who whisper that during the 550s, wererats had infected nearly the entire Directing Oligarchy before being revealed. The political turmoil of the 550s and early 560s, before the city's recent economic revival, has inspired many such rumors, from wererat cults to dopplegangers to human cults of Asmodeus, and it is difficult to say what is true. In Dyvers, the wererats tend to be more analytical, working as alchemists and experimenting in altering their shapes and creating new forms of rat-hybrids.

    Some few wererats that were once human prefer the thief-god Kurell. Until a century ago, those wererats inclined toward Chaos worshiped Sabnach, the demon lord of cities, disease, and vermin, until Sabnach was bound by Raxivort, walled up in his own Abyssal city. Most of Sabnach's followers among the wererats have pragmatically converted to the faith of his imprisoner.

    Graz'zt is torn on the question of whether or not to work toward freeing Sabnach. On the one hand, with Sabnach out of the picture, Graz'zt is one of the most urbane of the other Abyssal princes, and his cult has expanded rapidly among Sabnach's former cultists in decaying cities. On the other hand, while Sabnach would not be grateful to Graz'zt for liberating him (nor would Graz'zt expect him to be), the two demons do share a common interest: vengeance against Raxivort. Graz'zt may well decide to sacrifice his gains in urban areas in order to watch Raxivort squirm at the prospect of another vengeful demon lord on his tail.

    Raxivort has also gained the enmity of another demon lord, the vampire queen Zura, who he temporarily allied with after his escape from Azzagrat only to betray her to the demigod Kanchelsis. Kanchelsis has cast Zura into the Wells of Darkness, putting her beyond even Graz'zt's six-fingered grasp, and in exchange for his help in consolidating his domination over vampires, Kanchelsis has allowed Raxivort to take Zura's werebat and mobat followers. Raxivort's domination over batkind is now contested mainly by the Olman deity Camazotz, though Camazotz has little influence outside the equatorial lands where his star can be seen.

    Some few wererat broods, such as those in Dyvers, also worship the demon lord Haagenti, lord of alchemy, and Marbas, lord of change.


    Last edited by rasgon on Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
    GreySage

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    Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:48 am  

    Excellent additions, Rasgon!

    Though I recognize most of the names included in your latest post, I find several esoteric mentions that are intriguing enough for me to do a bit of research on . Thanks for the inspiration. Smile

    SirXaris
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    Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:23 pm  

    Verin is from a bunch of places. Zirphirus I made up. Roofdrak is the Lord of Dogs in Michael Moorcock's Elric books. Eshebela, Daragor, Squerrik, Balador, and Ferrix are from Monster Mythology by Carl Sargent - they're presented as archetypal gods, but I made them exiled Animal Lords because I thought it fit pretty well without overloading the pantheon. I made up the name "Rexlupus," but the Wolf Lord is mentioned in a few different places. Sabnach, Haagenti, and Marbas are from The Book of Fiends: Hordes of the Abyss by Erik Mona. Zura and Haagenti are both in Lords of Chaos: Book of the Damned Volume 2 by James Jacobs. Neither of the latter books are from TSR/WotC, but it's generally pretty easy to fit new Abyssal lords in.
    GreySage

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    Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:13 pm  

    Dolphins
    Descended from those ancient creatures who so loved the sea that the gods made them a part of it forever, dolphins are fishlike mammals found throughout the shallow seas of Oerth. There are even fresh-water dolphins inhabiting the rivers of the Amedio Jungle. They are joyful creatures, friendly with other ceteceans, merfolk, sea elves, tritons, locathahs, elves, and humans.

    When dolphins sleep, only one hemisphere of their brains rests at a time. While in a way this means they are always awake, it also means part of their minds are always dreaming. They term this state of being 'the Whale Dream,' and experience it as the deep world they glimpse in the songs they and their whale cousins form within their sonar. It is within the Whale Dream that they speak to their ancestors and their gods.

    The lost continent of Atalya, myths say, sank not all at once but in stages. After the bulk of the land disappeared beneath the Solnor Ocean, cursed by the most ancient gods, an archipelago remained. Called Olefin or, occasionally, Procanis, these bright isles lasted for another age before they were doomed by the experiments of the Elder Elves. The Sinking Isle in the Bay of Gates is the last remnant of this land, legends say.

    There are human myths that claim that when the continent of Atalya sank beneath the Solnor Ocean, its inhabitants, praying to the gods of ocean for salvation, became dolphins, sleek, tailed, and finned. Drawmij has opined that the dolphin ancestors were related to the quaggoths who once dominated Telchuria before the polar axis shifted; Drawmij believes that quaggoths were the first and most primal race of mammalian humanoids. Most other sages assume the cetecean ancestors were more like giant beavers in form.

    Elves have a myth that when the elder generation of their race were first attempting to create the aquatic elves, they first used the magic of song - but this magic was too powerful, and instead of creating elves adapted to the water, it created beings who no longer resembled elves at all. These were the first dolphins, and when aquatic elves were finally perfected, the dolphins helped the people adjust to their new watery home, and helped them cleanse the waters of the kuo-toans they had come to destroy.

    While dolphins are often numbered among the natural beasts, they are clever, and they have a language as complex as that as humans. Dolphins are natural singers and poets, their language indistinguishable from poetry and status among them is partially determined by their ability to improvise couplets and haiku. They distinguish between Old Delphin, the primal, haunting, rough version of their tongue, and High Delphin, a formal language that obeys specific rules of meter. Dolphins revere whales as the greatest singers of the ocean, with the deepest intellects. The primary dolphin goddess is Trishina, whom they believe sang the seas into existence, imprisoned the marids in the Elemental Plane of Water, and single-handedly defeated the evil shark god, Sekolah when he attempted to devour the newborn world. The dolphins say Trishina exists within every song they sing, and within the song of the whales and the Whale Dream. Trishina is the consort of the elven god of the oceans, Deep Sashelas, and is portrayed by the elves as a sea elf or as a sea-elf with a dolphin's tail replacing her legs. The dolphins, in turn, depict Sashelas as a dolphin.

    Dolphins, like other cetaceans, are associated by humans with the Suloise goddess Osprem. Some dolphins do actually worship Osprem, but most still honor Trishina as the older goddess and their true creator. Those dolphins who reject Trishina entirely in favor of other gods are seen as having willfully exiled themselves from the Whale Dream that defines their species, becoming something ot her than dolphin.

    Dolphins are considered sacred to Saint Idee, a former servant of Osprem who became the patron of the now-conquered nation of the same name, and the patron saint of sailors. Some say she was a nursemaid to the children of the noble house of Zelrad who sacrificed her life to save them, while others say she protected a later generation of noble Oeridian children. Fanciful myths claim that Saint Idee is a daughter of Osprem and Xerbo. Darker myths claim that Saint Idee has become corrupted by the wicked, exiled sea-god Panzuriel, secretly devolving into the demigod Yeathan.

    Dolphins build nothing of their own, being ill-suited for the task, but inhabit settlements created by sea elves, merfolk, and tritons when not in dolphin-only nomadic communities. They despise sharks and sahuagins. Humans have compared them to Rhennee, mischievous and wild, though dolphins do have order within their pods, particularly the priestesses of Trishina or Osprem.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sun Jan 01, 2012 12:36 pm  

    Algoid – In marshy places touched by the plane of Faerie or the magic of fey creatures can sometimes be encountered a curious form of plant-life known as an algoid. Little study has been made of these creatures due to their rarity and transitory nature, for an algoid is simply a mass of algae which comes together in a humanoid form and with considerable powers, to respond to a threat to its environment. No one has ever had the chance to communicate with one due to the fact that when encountered they consistently attack whoever it is that has disturbed their swampy home. Once destroyed, the component algae simply reverts back to its natural form displaying neither the crude intelligence nor mobility of the algoid though still radiating traces of the fey magic believed to animate it. This magic fades quickly though, once separated from its natural environment.
    They frequently are found near the lairs of bog hags. For this reason some have speculated that algoids are simply living constructs, drawn forth by the fey magic of hags from the crude materials of the surrounding environment. However, this opinion is disputed by no less of an authority than the famed wizard, Warnes Starcoat, who encountered considerable numbers of algoids in his battles with the Weird of Gnatmarsh. From the information he has shared, he is of the opinion that the fey power residing in those pools of algae that become algoids is not a form of animating magic, nor does it spring forth spontaneously, rather it exists in potential in specific algae colonies. That some bog hags use these creatures as allies and defenders appears to be more a matter of happenstance and opportunity than any active design on the hag’s part.
    GreySage

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    Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:32 pm  

    This project is coming along excellently, fellas! Very nice additions. I never imagined that dolphins had such a magical history. Happy

    SirXaris
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    Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:37 pm  

    Al-mi’raj – So much of Baklunish lore is consumed with tales of elemental creatures such as the djinn and efreet that one might think the inhabitants of the fey realm do not impinge on the lands of that people. In fact, there are many familiar fey creatures which haunt Baklunish lands, and indeed one that is unfamiliar to most in the east, whose origins on Oerth can be traced to the island of Janasib, which is the namesake of that chain at the mouth of the Gulf of Ghayar. Janasib Island is mountainous and heavily forested, home to many fey creatures hostile to man, which is why no men have colonized it, instead settling on the islands surrounding it. Of the fey creatures known to inhabit Janasib, the most unusual is the al-mi’raj. It is a beast in all appearances like a large rabbit, except for the large spiral horn sprouting from the center of its forehead. And on Janasib Island is where the al-mi-raj would have most likely stayed if not for Sultan Beroz of Zief (152 – 188 CY), called The Mariner. On one of his many voyages, he brought back a mated pair of al-mi’raj for his menagerie in the royal palaces in Zief City. But the Sultan did not count on the resourcefulness of the creatures, which slaughtered an unwary keeper and escaped to the rich farmlands surrounding the capital within a week of being introduced to their new home.
    From this pair it is believed the entire population of the mainland is descended. Though not a common creature – in fact al-mi’raj are very rare – they have spread as far east as northern Keoland and the Vesve. It is believed that the latter populations spread across the steppes of the Wolf and Tiger Nomads, rather than through the Fals Gap.
    However, one report places al-mi’raj in the Iron Wood in western Verbobonc, but this tale is considered unreliable due to the witness’s habitual drunkenness, as well as the additional detail of the al-mi’raj having been ridden by a small fey humanoid in silver plate armor wielding a tiny lance, who declared himself to be Brion of Knocknasheega, King of all the Leprechauns of Verbobonc. Most likely the product of too much of the fine ale brewed at the Wayfarer’s Rest Inn on the Iron Road, but there can be no doubt that these fey-creatures will continue to spread across the Flanaess until they inhabit every woodland.
    GreySage

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    Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:51 pm  

    Nice, Smillan. The fey have been underserved, and I think algoid and al-mi'raj work well as fey (and I like the Baklunish fey concept of al-mi'raj better than the "mad gnomish experiment" origin from the 2nd edition Fiend Folio Appendix). It looks like you're going through the 1st edition Fiend Folio in order, which should be a fun challenge.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:11 pm  

    Thanks, rasgon! I've been into the fey lately, but it's more coincidental that I did these two, since you are correct that I'm trying to work my way through the 1e Fiend Folio. Although I have skipped a couple, and will probably continue to do so. I've got nothing for the aleax and adherer.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:39 pm  

    For rasgon's take on the Carnivorous Ape, which I've adopted for this entry see page 1 of this thread for “Apes in the Flanaess” and “More on carnivorous apes”

    Gorilla Bear – Sometimes mistaken for the carnivorous ape, unlike that creature, which is actually a degenerate race of man, the jungle-dwelling gorilla bear is a true ape. Thus it is a relative of the gorilla and dakon, though it does not share the shy disposition of those two breeds of ape. Indeed, its name comes from its aggressive nature, which to explorers and adventurers from the Flanaess who first encountered it reminded them of the grizzly and cave bears of the northern lands. To add to this impression is its large size (8’ tall), and the sets of sharp teeth and powerful claws which it uses to subdue prey. The gorilla bears claws are so well developed that it lacks much of the dexterity exhibited by its relatives.
    As far as is known, its range extends across most of the Amedio Jungle though unlike many creatures native to the Amedio it is not known in Hepmonaland. The origins of the gorilla bear remained unknown until recently when an expedition returned after having looted ruins belonging to the pre-human troglodyte civilization of the Amedio. The carvings seem to indicate that the original gorilla bears were the mutant spawn of mating between captive gorillas and bar-lgura demons summoned by the demon-worshipping priests of the ancient troglodytes. Even though that civilization is long gone it seems that their gorilla bear servants live on.
    As an interesting aside the carvings show the bar-lgura demons having been summoned by means of a small stylized statue appearing to depict the demon prince Demogorgon. Though the statue was not found in the ruins, rumors came to the expedition that a tribe of Amedi savages in possession of a similar statue had been seen years ago near a Sea Prince fort on the coast. Soon after, reports of creatures resembling bar-lgura in the jungles southeast of Storm Lake began reaching the fort from Amedi and Olman tribes who traded with the fort.
    GreySage

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    Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:37 pm  

    Nice additions, smillan_31. Happy Keep 'em comin'!

    SirXaris
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    Sat Jan 07, 2012 5:23 pm  

    I must agree all of these are great. This whole thread could be a Monster manual, Book of lairs, or an excerpt from the book of Vile Darkness even.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

    Later

    Argon
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    Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:54 pm  

    Getting away from the Fiend Folio for a moment.

    Will-O-Wisp

    Many stories are told about the origin of the Will-o-the-wisps, the fey ghost lights of the marshes who lure men to their death to feed on their fear and pain. The most common and widely told tale concerns an evil-tempered and cruel man who upon his death was made to haunt the Oerth by the gods as a chance to redeem himself (1). In the Gran March however a different tale is told. The men of Gran March, especially those men of the March living along the border with the Duchy of Ulek, are not known to bear great love for the elven lords of the latter land, nor the men who serve them. Though not hated by the marchers so much as feared and despised for their strangeness, the elves of Ulek and Celene beyond are viewed as unnatural, and not entirely trustworthy. Among the villages of the Gran March may be heard the following tale.

    “Now the men who settled in the upper Ulek lands between the Lort and Kewl are a strange tribe of men, bending their knee to elf princes as they do, and having done so since the days when men of the west first came to these lands. Still, like other men they have mortal lives and grow old and die in their allotted time. Their daughters are famous among the daughters of men for their fairness, but fairer still are the daughters of the elf lords, and many a man of the upper Ulek lands has been baited by that beauty and ensnared by their fey wiles. Of those that wed the daughters of the elves, they become cursed by the gods. Cursed by the spite that the natural way of the world imposes on those who flaunt its will, and marry outside their own people. Though his wife dies only in the passing of hundreds of years, still a man is but a man and his life-span is but short compared. So it is that when he grows old his wife is still young and fair, and the bitterness of this wells up in him thick enough to choke. When he finally dies the empty husk of his lost soul is filled with that bitterness and stays on to haunt the Oerth as a ghost after his body has rotted back to the dust.
    These are the ghost lights called will-o-the-wisp who tempt and waylay their once brothers, leading them into deadly paths so they are trapped and die. Then the will-o-the-wisp may feed on the trapped man’s soul to try and drive the bitterness out of itself. But the will-o-the-wisp are always hungry, for those who eat the bread of pain and drink the wine of fear are never full, always hungering for more.”

    Footnote -

    1. Amber E. Scott. “The Ecology of the Will-O-Wisp.” Dragon # 328. Feb 2005. pp. 54-58.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:18 pm  

    I am really enjoying these posts. It's nice to get a back story on a creature it gives them more life and makes them come alive. Continue the great work guys.

    Later

    Argon
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    Thu Jan 12, 2012 6:03 am  

    smillan_31 wrote:
    Thanks, rasgon! I've been into the fey lately, but it's more coincidental that I did these two, since you are correct that I'm trying to work my way through the 1e Fiend Folio. Although I have skipped a couple, and will probably continue to do so. I've got nothing for the aleax and adherer.


    FYI the adherer is featured in Paizo's Misfit Monsters Redeemed.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:45 pm  

    Thanael wrote:
    smillan_31 wrote:
    Thanks, rasgon! I've been into the fey lately, but it's more coincidental that I did these two, since you are correct that I'm trying to work my way through the 1e Fiend Folio. Although I have skipped a couple, and will probably continue to do so. I've got nothing for the aleax and adherer.


    FYI the adherer is featured in Paizo's Misfit Monsters Redeemed.


    I'll have to check it out to see what they did with it.
    GreySage

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    Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:56 pm  
    Doppelgangers

    Doppelgangers of Oerth

    Also known as form-dancers and false men, they are most commonly called doppelgangers, from an Oeridian word meaning "double walker." They're known as vardogers in the Cold Tongue, and etiainen ("firstcomer") in Elvish. Some believe they were creations of a shapechanging, mischievous deity (some say Ralishaz, or Syrul, or Xan Yae, or Erevan Ilesere, or even the offspring of Erythnul and Ralishaz's feminine aspect in one memorable Oeridian folktale).

    More powerful than men, able to instantly absorb thoughts and memories, capable of taking any form, how is it that doppelgangers haven't conquered the world? Some paranoid souls believe they have taken over the world; that everyone they meet may be, and probably is one of the shapechangers, and humanity is an endangered species.

    This is far from the truth. Doppelgangers are undoubtedly an artificially created species. They were never intended by their makers to be capable of breeding. Who, aside from a mad god like Ralishaz or Erythnul, would deliberately engineer a race that could be anything, anywhere, unless they were the only ones who could make more?

    And yet the doppelgangers did escape their creators, using their own cleverness to learn how to recreate themselves. After years of experimentation, doppelgangers introduced into their race the ability to reproduce by budding, gestating these buds within the wombs of other races. Doppelgangers have no sexual desire or parental instinct, so they do this only irregularly, reluctant to create too many rivals who might compete with them for resources or make other races too aware of their race's existence. As such, doppelgangers have remained a minority in the world.

    Doppelgangers are, then, a race of orphans, all of them raised by other races, thinking themselves to be other than they were until they hit puberty and discover, to their horror, their features melting and their skin turning gray, and the thoughts of all those around them rushing into their heads in an uncontrollable torrent. The awakening of a pubescent doppelganger sends out a mental signal to doppelgangers nearby, who adopt the new doppelganger and train it to control its powers. Sometimes they don't reach it in time, and the young shapeshifter is destroyed by those around it. Doppelgangers have little fellow-feeling for others of their kind, and generally accept this and work to replace it with another.

    While the paranoid ramblings of street preachers sometimes claim all the kings of every nation have been replaced by doppelgangers long ago, in truth most kingdoms long ago took steps to avoid this, regularly using magical testing and the simple expedient of checking the color of the monarch's blood to ensure that no shapechangers have replaced their rightful heir. The only documented case of a doppelganger taking over an entire country for long was the reign of Pasha Daoud of Tusmit, who was successfully replaced by a doppelganger under the control of his vizier, Surrvaris, for ten years, and in that case it was the vizier's ability to fake the test results that ensured the lasting nature of the deception. More commonly, doppelgangers will come to monarchs and offer their services honestly, promising to serve the ruler faithfully and prevent attacks from rival shapeshifters in exchange for safe harbor and a comfortable lifestyle. This generally suits both parties well, except in especially paranoid countries like the Pale or nations obsessed with "purity" like the Scarlet Brotherhood (which prefers su-doppelgangers as agents). Because doppelgangers produce few offspring, most of the species lives in such a manner, with rogues typically exiled from polite society due to various crimes. It is certain that many serve Iuz under the control of his Greater Boneheart.

    One more theory bears mentioning. Some sages, notably among the Baklunish, have theorized that doppelgangers are closely related to other shapechanging species, including mimics and phasms. The most extreme form of this theory, promoted by one Kheit Bakkar of Zeif, has it that mimics are another stage in the life cycle of doppelgangers, who become sessile and evolve into mimics after a "childhood" spent in humanoid form, and continue to evolve into greater mimics, who may take the form of entire buildings or, eventually, neighborhoods, which spawn new doppelgangers in subterranean birthing-chambers. To say there is little evidence of this is an understatement; no such "living neighborhood" has ever been discovered, while there is plenty of evidence of doppelgangers being born to women of other races.(1)

    Su-doppelgangers are hybrids of doppelgangers and Suel humans. Popular legends of "changelings," descendants of doppelgangers and humans who interbred with one another long ago, are spurious, as doppelgangers are incapable of sexual reproduction, but they have a core of truth in them. Through sorcerous means, the ancient Suloise created hybrids of doppelgangers and their own race in an attempt at creating shapeshifters that would be loyal to their emperor during the wars with the Baklunish. Unlike true doppelgangers, su-doppelgangers can successfully interbreed with humans, and they have managed to survive the death of the empire, living in secret among other races. Su-doppelgangers can mate with one another to produce su-doppelganger offspring, or they can mate with humans, male or female, to produce either human or su-doppelganger offspring. Unlike sexless true doppelgangers, Su-dopplegangers are born with a "default" sex, but can take the form of either males or females (or hermaphrodites) and can successfully reproduce as either.(2)

    Doppelgangers may occasionally work with su-doppelgangers, but do not consider them kin, and some actively work to wipe the su-doppelgangers out, considering them abominations or merely unwelcome rivals who risk making other races too aware of the shapeshifters' presence. Su-doppelgangers and doppelgangers cannot interbreed, but su-doppelgangers, like other races, may be tricked into incubating a doppelganger's "budding."

    History

    The earliest mention of doppelgangers in the chronicles was in the annals of the elves, during their wars against the bestial ones who dominated the Flanaess before their coming. The elves believed the doppelgangers to be some kind of primal race, perhaps the first creations of the bestial gods of the world they found themselves on (a belief many doppelgangers share today).

    The elves first encountered doppelgangers during their wars against the kuo-toans, discovering to their horror that warriors they had believed to be members of their own race were actually shapechanging double agents, fanatically dedicated to protecting the kuo-toans and allied races against their adversaries. The Savant-Sage and Drawmij both believe doppelgangers to have been creations of the aboleths. These creatures were not gifts to the former slaves of the aboleth empire, but a means of keeping them under control. It was only the elves' misfortune that the doppelgangers were as aggressive against interlopers as they were about preventing slave revolts. With the fall of the squamous races, however, doppelgangers adapted to living among the younger peoples, taking human, elven, and dwarf form as easily as they had once taken the forms of kuo-toans, bullywugs, lizard men, kopru, locathahs, and quaggoths.(3)

    Doppelgangers next acheived prominence during the Baklunish-Suloise Wars, when Suloise magi engineered the su-doppelgangers in order to have a race of shapeshifting assassins loyal to them. While the aboleths, if they were indeed responsible for the initial creation of doppelgangers, created their tools to be sexless and non-reproducing, the short-sighted Suloise made their own agents to be able to breed sexually in order to more quickly turn out warriors to be used in the war effort. While the first generation of su-doppelgangers was successfully brainwashed to be loyal to their emperor, for the most part, subsequent generations have little reason to emphasize with the Suloise. Indeed, after countless generations of interbreeding with humans of a variety of races, they may have little Suloise blood remaining in them. Su-doppelgangers do often have some sympathy for skulks, a much earlier attempt by the Suel to introduce something of doppelganger abilities into their own kind, and it is not uncommon for su-doppelgangers and skulks to interbreed. The resulting offspring are either su-doppelgangers or skulks; there are no recorded examples of creatures born with the abilities of both races, though with a race as secretive as those two, who can know for sure?

    A persistent rumor that doppelgangers were instrumental in the extermination of the House of Rax seems to have had some truth to it, as the Naelax had many doppelganger allies. An alternate rumor, that the House of Rax was already almost entirely replaced by doppelgangers and the Naelax exterminated them only to patriotically liberate their nation from usurpers is likely Naelax propaganda.

    Religion

    Most doppelgangers themselves believe themselves to be the first of all races; other races descend from doppelgangers who forgot how to shift after becoming exposed to the original sin of sexual reproduction. Only the doppelgangers remain pure, reproducing themselves without compromising their bloodlines by blending them with others.

    The most common doppelganger patrons are Sotillion, goddess of luxury, and Syrul, goddess of deception. Many doppelgangers have convinced themselves that they are the special chosen of both of those deities. Olidammara, a shapeshifting, tricksy god of revelry, is popular among doppelgangers as well, and a lesser known myth among Olidammara's faithful has the first doppelgangers as the illegitimate offspring of Olidammara and one or the other of those two goddesses. Those doppelgangers who accept the myth that their race was spawned by Erythnul and Ralishaz may give some homage to those deities, but neither fits the doppelganger temperment. Some doppelgangers, who have eschewed the pursuit of luxury for a more penitent, humble lifestyle, worship the mongrelman deity Meriadar, the malformed god of patience. Adventurous, thrillseeking doppelgangers may revere Norebo or his alleged daughter, Rudd. Among those doppelgangers raised by elves, Erevan Ilesere is the most popular patron. Among the Baklunish, they often look to Xan Yae, the lady of shadows. Bitter, thieving doppelgangers may embrace Sotillion's spurned suitor, Kurell; a myth among Kurell's faithful has it that Kurell created doppelgangers in an attempt to impress Sotillion, but Olidammara stole credit for the invention, resulting in an affair between Olidammara and Sotillion that the clergy of Zilchus, Sotillion's lawful husband, hotly denies ever occurred.

    Notes

    1. This theory is the central premise of The Complete Guide to Doppelgangers by Keith Baker. I give it little credence here not because it's a bad idea, but because a campaign with entire neighborhoods composed of a single elder doppelganger would seem to be more high-fantasy than the typical Greyhawk campaign, as well as being more doppelganger-dominated than the typical campaign. This essay attempts to fit doppelgangers in as a more minor part of the world. However, Keith Baker's theory remains interesting and plausible in a campaign in which doppelgangers are a more dominant factor.

    2. This description of su-doppelgangers, who were introduced to 2nd edition AD&D by Roger E. Moore in Dragon #241, owes more to the 3rd edition race of changelings, used prominently in the Eberron setting, but uses Moore's history to integrate them into Greyhawk.

    3. Doppelgangers can form gills as easily as lungs, and live among the aquatic races at least as frequently as they live on land. This is not a separate race of aquatic doppelgangers; it is the same species, and a single doppelganger may move between the land and the sea throughout its life.
    GreySage

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    Mon Jan 16, 2012 5:28 pm  

    smillan_31 wrote:
    “Now the men who settled in the upper Ulek lands between the Lort and Kewl are a strange tribe of men, bending their knee to elf princes as they do, and having done so since the days when men of the west first came to these lands. Still, like other men they have mortal lives and grow old and die in their allotted time. Their daughters are famous among the daughters of men for their fairness, but fairer still are the daughters of the elf lords, and many a man of the upper Ulek lands has been baited by that beauty and ensnared by their fey wiles. Of those that wed the daughters of the elves, they become cursed by the gods. Cursed by the spite that the natural way of the world imposes on those who flaunt its will, and marry outside their own people. Though his wife dies only in the passing of hundreds of years, still a man is but a man and his life-span is but short compared. So it is that when he grows old his wife is still young and fair, and the bitterness of this wells up in him thick enough to choke. When he finally dies the empty husk of his lost soul is filled with that bitterness and stays on to haunt the Oerth as a ghost after his body has rotted back to the dust.


    Ha! I love your racist will-o-wisp myth. It connects the wisps to both ghosts and the fey races, and reminds us that miscegenation between elves and men is not universally respected by humanity.

    No mention of boggarts, though? Even to dismiss any connection between the two monsters?
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:22 pm  

    rasgon wrote:
    Ha! I love your racist will-o-wisp myth. It connects the wisps to both ghosts and the fey races, and reminds us that miscegenation between elves and men is not universally respected by humanity.

    No mention of boggarts, though? Even to dismiss any connection between the two monsters?


    Thanks! And a reminder that elves aren't universally loved by humans. To my shame I missed out on the boggart connection (Don't have a copy of MM2 and neglected to look at the older "Ecology Of" article), although my inclination would be to dismiss it. Looks like Skip Williams and Rob Wiese already did a good job of that in The Silent Manse - http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/al/20041006a.

    Nice work on the doppelganger! I've never quite known where to fit them in my campaigns.[/url]
    GreySage

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    Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:05 pm  
    Tirapheg

    Tirapheg

    Tiraphegs are abominations first created by the Ebon Triad cult as part of their blasphemous experiments in merging three gods into one. Tiraphegs are merely mortal, created from human prisoners and stitched together using surgery and vile magic, but the cultists saw them as an essential step toward creating the Ebon Aspect, a terrible fiend that is to date the highest manifestation of their arts.

    The first tiraphegs were created by Lashonna, the founder of the cult, with the aid of the avolakia Mahuudril, and the dungeons beneath Alhaster are still home to large numbers of them. Perhaps Alhaster would have been the only home of this deformed new race if Lashonna hadn't given the secrets of creating them to other cultists in the hope of speeding their research. Tiraphegs are also (at least at one point, though many have died out) found in caves near the Black Cathedral in the Diamond Lake region, and beneath Castle Greyhawk in chambers beneath the Tower of Magic. Beneath Greyhawk Castle, the mages Sindar Sirion, Zelcon, and Ussisemeel had close secret ties to the Ebon Triad cult as heretical devotees of Vecna, Hextor, and Erythnul respectively, and created many tiraphegs in the Vaults of Creation during their time beneath the ruins. Some still survive today, and it their presence there that has given rise to rumors that tiraphegs were mad experiments of Zagig Yragerne himself. These rumors are false; even Zagyg's sense of humor was never so twisted. Tiraphegs may conceivably be found elsewhere as well, as far south as the Amedio city of Cauldron; the Ebon Triad has spread far and wide.

    To be a tirapheg is to be in constant misery. Mahuudril saw no point in dulling its prisoners' ability to feel pain as it stitched them together, nor in making their lives comfortable afterward. Each tirapheg was made from three prisoners; three arms, three legs, and three heads were stitched to a single torso and magically kept alive. Only the central head was allowed to retain eyes, two in the front of its face and one behind. The mouths of all three heads were stitched shut and made to heal together until only a faint scar remained. In keeping with the cult's obsession with the number three, the central arm was given three fingers and the central leg was given three toes, while the creature's other two legs were left as mere useless stubs and its other two arms tapered into sharp spikes. In the center of their torsos, beneath their third arms, tiraphegs were given large, obscene mouths, around which writhe three wormlike tentacles. These mouths and their associated digestive apparatus are suited only for a diet of decayed flesh, forcing a tirapheg to share an ecological niche with ochre jellies, otyughs, and similar subterranean scavengers. The first meat a tirapheg is given is composed of the limbs and torsos that were discarded in its own creation.

    As part of their role as stepping-stones in the manipulation of divinity, tiraphegs were invested with one magical gift: the power to create harmless illusionary duplicates of themselves. The intent was simply to learn how creatures such as they might be invested with permanent magic in preparation for greater experiments later, but tiraphegs are sometimes able to use their simple illusions to frighten off or distract would-be attackers.

    Tiraphegs are technically hermaphrodites in the sense that they were created from both male and female prisoners, but they do not retain anything resembling genitalia. Mercifully, they are unable to breed; if further experiments did give them reproductive abilities, their offspring would likely be ordinary humans.

    Obviously, the design of the tirapheg reflected the warped religious symbolism of the Ebon Triad cult and was never meant to be anything that would easily be able to survive in the wild. The miserable creatures can barely walk on their single feet, shuffling through the dungeon corridors in short hops while their stub-legs swing uselessly at the sides or, more commonly, giving up any attempt at walking and simply writhing across the floor like worms. Without cultists keeping them supplied with flesh, most quickly die, and in places they have survived the departure of their creators (such as the ruins of Castle Greyhawk), it is because other twisted denizens have decided to keep them fed for reasons of their own.

    As essentially failed experiments, tiraphegs likely would have been euthanized after their value as teaching aids had ended. However, as they are still essentially human despite their magical and surgical alterations, the cultists found them valuable as test subjects for a variety of rites that involve the manipulation of the human form. As such, there are many variant tiraphegs as well, including a variation that spits Kyuss worms from its torso-mouth and a variation that casts Evard's black tentacles at will. These special experiments are normally thrown into the same pits, cells, and corridors as unaltered tiraphegs, so those who come across them will have no simple way of distinguishing the experiments from the others.

    Tiraphegs cannot speak and they have developed no other way of communicating, but most can understand Common. In theory, a tirapheg could write, but most have become quite mad after years of conjoined existence in the darkness feeding on corpses and have no inclination to figure out how their deformed central hands might manipulate a writing implement. As experiments of a heretical religious cult, in theory tiraphegs belong to the Ebon Triad faith, but most have little knowledge of their captors' dogma and no inclination to embrace it for their own. Demon lords do not consider seeking converts among the tiraphegs to be worth the effort.

    It is rumored that the decapus and ubue (Palace of the Silver Princess, original version) are further experiments by the Ebon Triad.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:42 am  

    Good job, rasgon! I was wondering what direction to go with Tiraphegs. Was thinking of something more along the lines of them being weird foreign critters, such as some of those described by Pliny the Elder, like blemmyes and monopods, but I like your approach better. Much more original and a good use of existing GH lore.
    GreySage

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    Sat Jun 30, 2012 1:03 pm  

    Girallons and the Torhoon

    Elsewhere in the universe is a world very different from Oerth. Smaller, its atmosphere thin and cool, the world is covered in red dust, its ancient seas nearly dry, titanic canals bringing what little water remains from the poles. It is known by many names: some call it Hextor in honor of its constant wars and strife. Some call it by the name given it by its four-armed nomads: Boersuum. Most sages, however, name it after the race that left it long ago to colonize Oerth: Torhoon.

    The Torhoon invaded Oerth some 8,000 years ago, colonizing Hepmonaland, Oerypt, and the great crescent of land in between. They were an advanced, sorcerous people, masters of alchemy and the creation of pocket dimensions. They vanished after their great war with the stellar devas and the Doombringer Culture of the Flanaess, leaving corpses and ruins their primary legacy. They left one other thing, though: their four-armed, bestial servants, the apelike girallons, which are found in abundance in Hepmonaland and the Amedio Jungle to this day. Girallons have also been found on Luna, in the company of those spiderlike planar merchants, the Chak. On their native world, girallons are often used as hunting beasts (and sometimes food) by the tall, four-armed nomads native to the plains, and more rarely as guards or arena monsters in the world's rare cities.

    Where, exactly, is the world of the Torhoon? Portals to it have been discovered in Torhoon ruins and in the depths of Castle Greyhawk; the latter route is known to have been used by the scoundrel known as Erac's Cousin, who returned as an expert in the dual-sword techniques of that planet's nomads. Most visitors to the alien sphere, including Erac's Cousin himself in the journal later recovered by Neb Rentar, have associated it with the red wandering star more commonly called Gnibile, asserting that portals to the planet only work when that star is in the sky. The clergy of Celestian, however, assure us that Gnibile is a great globe of swirling, toxic gas, completely unlike the descriptions of Torhoon. Perhaps, then, the world of the Torhoon orbits Gnibile as Celene and Luna orbit Oerth. Perhaps the death of Torhoon's seas and the ravaging of its atmosphere are connected to the mythical cataclysm that transformed Gnibile from a blue sphere of beauty like its celestial twin, Edill, into the Abyss-like sphere of storms and undeath that it is today. This is all speculation, however, as no thorough catalog of Gnibile's moons has to date been made.

    The Torhoon were introduced in "Ex Keraptis Cum Amore" in Dungeon #77 by Andy Miller. Barsoom is the creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Chak, along with members of a race of four-armed gorillas, are found in I11, Needle. Gnibile is a planet in Greyspace described in the Spelljammer setting; it hasn't officially been given any moons, though as a Saturn-like gas giant we might expect it to have some. Girallons were first introduced by that name in the 3rd edition Monster Manual. Pathfinder's Distant Worlds suggested linking girallons with that campaign setting's Mars equivalent.


    Last edited by rasgon on Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sat Jun 30, 2012 1:31 pm  

    Brilliant work rasgon! You even worked Erac's Cousin in.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:12 pm  

    That was awesome, rasgon! Happy
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Tue Jul 17, 2012 9:59 pm  

    I would heartily support this being made into a PDF (or series of PDFs) and being made available for download. Bravo!
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