Infest: When Bad Xvarts Get Worse
Date: Wed, June 11, 2003
Topic: Monsters of Greyhawk
From the folktales of the Xvarts comes a new creature for use with D&D 3rd edition Greyhawk games. Also included is a rules light commentary on aspects of the Hateful Wars of the Flanaess's early 6th century from an oft neglected humanoid point of view.
By Rich Trickey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Used with permission, do not repost or redistribute without the express permission of the author.
The folktales of the Xvarts, Ratmen and worshippers of the Rodent Lord Raxivort are usually gory tales of disease, filth and darkness, nothing that would inspire them to loyalty to their demonic god through any means but basic fear. Raxivort's name is usually only mentioned when speaking of the great wrath he brings upon the enemies of rodentkin, which is just about every intelligent creature in the Flanaess, but one tale speaks of the rewards Raxivort sometimes gives Xvarts who serve him extremely loyally and well.
Xargh was once a mortal Xvart, a runt among his tribe and even more cowardly and slovenly than normal for his people. Stories about Xargh often focus on his physical weakness and cowardice, but always end with him overcoming great odds through deviousness and opportunism, and it is through that exact sly scheming that Xargh came to be the chieftain of his tribe by tricking the other males into slaughtering each other and then personally fathering an entire new tribe to replace them.
Seeing the inherent weakness in his own kind, Xargh forged lasting alliances with the Orcs and Goblins of the region, and eventually ruled as king of all Xvarts of the Lortmils. When the Hateful Wars came upon the Lortmils, the other humanoid tribes were not at all surprised to see the Xvarts flee their warrens, leaving only empty, filthy, rat infested caves behind them. Due in no small part to Elven arrogance, the final chapter in Xargh's story goes unwritten in the Flanaess.
With the bulk of their army steadfastly driving the humanoids south, the Elves of Enstad were shocked and horrified one bleak autumn evening when a vast horde of Ratmen and direrat mounted Xvarts fell upon the city. In a battle that lasted 4 days, the rodentkin slaughtered hundreds of Elven women and children, and the Xvarts who survived say that Xargh himself chewed the throat out of Vensalis, youngest son of the Elven queen Yolande before an arrow from the Elven prince Melf Brightflame finally brought the Xvart chieftain down. Realizing their defeat, the Xvarts dragged their fallen leader's body back into the shadows of the forest, where it was, as is tradition, offered to Raxivort by feeding it to a swarm of hungry rats.
Raxivort watched the Hateful Wars with the same interest as deities such as Gruumsh One-Eye, Maglubiyet of the Goblins and Kurtulmak of the Kobolds, and was amused to watch the Elven prince choked to death upon having his throat ripped apart by Xargh, and he grew angry seeing the Xvart die at the hands of an elven archer. After the war ended and the Xvarts and Ratmen were driven into the Pomarj, Raxivort retrieved Xargh's soul and transformed him into the first Xarghera, a spiteful, savage creature with one sole purpose in the Flanaess, vengeance upon the Elves for their role in the Hateful Wars.
Other Xvarts were eventually 'blessed' with Raxivort's gift and became Xargheras, and the creatures have begun to breed, creating a new fell plague among the scattered settlements in the Lortmil region.
Small Outsider (Evil, Chaotic)
Hit Dice: 3d8+6 (26 hp)
Initiative: +5 (+1 dex, +4 Improved Init)
Speed: 20 feet (Xvart form) or 40 feet (Hybrid form)
AC: 16 (+1 size, +1 dex, +4 natural)
Attacks: 2 claws +4 melee, bite +7 melee (hybrid form only)
Damage: Bite 1d6+1, Claw 1d4
Face/Reach: 5ft x 5ft/5ft
Special Attacks: Plague, Feast (both in Hybrid Form only)
Special Qualities: Damage Reduction 10/+1, Scent, Hybrid form, Darkvision 90 ft
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +2
Abilities: Str 14, Dex 13, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 6
Skills: Hide +9, Listen +6, Move Silently +8, Spot +4
Feats: Improved Init, Alertness
Climate/Terrain: Lortmils and surrounding areas (Ulek states, Celene, Pomarj, Wild Coast)
Organization: Solitary or Swarm (10-12)
Challenge Rating: 3
Alignment: Always Chaotic Evil
Advancement: 5-6 hd (small size)
Xarghera appear as large, well muscled Xvarts, although their skin tends to be deeper blue, their hari longer and coarser and their eyes a bright reddish orange that seems to burn with the fires of the abyss. They dress as do Xvarts, wearing only simple loin clothes and carrying few possessions. Some Xarghera will braid their hair into long tight pony tails, while others are so filthy and mangey that their hair takes on an almost dreadlock type appearance.
Xarghera speak Xvart and Ratman, and can converse with rats and other rodents at will.
In their Xvart form, Xarghera will normally attack with their claws unless they possess a weapon with more potential. Unlike normal Xvarts, Xarghera are fearless in combat, and truly enjoy slaughter, often literally ripping their opponents apart with their bare hands and teeth.
Hybrid Form: Xarghera may assume their hybrid form, which resembles a semi-bipedal direrat with a humanoid head and forearms, as a standard action. This is a supernatural ability that is similar to a polymorph self spell, except that it allows only Hybrid and Xvart forms.
While in Hybrid Form, Xarghera enjoy the increased speed, bite attack and special attacks noted above, and gain a +6 circumstance bonus to Spot checks.
Plague: Any creature that is bitten by a Xarghera must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 20) or become afflicted with Filth Fever (as per the 3e DMG).
Feast: When a Xarghera slays an Elven or Half-Elven opponent, it may feast upon the corpse to heal itself of damage. Each hit die of the fallen foe provides 2 hp of healing to the Xarghera. Feasting destroys the victims body, preventing any sort of raising or resurrection that requires a part of the corpse. True Resurrection, Wish and Miracle will still restore a character whose body is destroyed in this manner.
Society: Xarghera have to true society of their own, sometimes living among normal Xvarts or Ratmen tribes, but often found alone or in small bands wandering their territory and allied only to hunt and fight more effectively.
Xarghera as Player Characters:
A Xarghera's favored class is fighter. Clerics, shamans, druids and rangers are also somewhat common, with rogues turning up now and then as well. Like normal Xvarts, they are incapable, for reasons known only to their creator, the Rat Lord Raxivort, of performing arcane magic, so those classes are barred. Xvart clerics usually worship Raxivort (see the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer or Living Greyhawk Journal magazine issue 3 for more information on Raxivort), and shamans are commonly in service of the beastlord Sneer (see Green Ronin Publishing's The Shaman's Handbook for more information on Sneer and his shamans).