Thursday, January 24, 2013

D&D Monsters as I'm Using Them in SWN Part II

Here's the second (and for the time being, final) part detailing background information on how I'm adding various D&D creatures into my SWN setting.

Gullion (Spelljammer MC2): Gullions are avian creatures from Hydrus II that are remarkably similar to Terran seagulls with only minor cosmetic differences (gullion feathers come in a wide array of colors thanks to the varied foods they eat). The big difference with gullions is that they are highly aggressive and with flocks numbering into the hundreds, they have become a great threat along the vast coastlines in the planet’s temperate zones. They see anything moving as food, and thanks to their highly adaptive and efficient metabolisms that allow them to digest just about anything, only heavily armored craft are safe from the creatures (though flock will attempt to attack and eat anyway). Travelers to Hydron II are warned about Gullion aggression. The local government releases public service announcements of gullion flock sightings and tasks public service crews and law enforcement to man sonic disruptors to scare off and kill the birds.

Gullions found before hatching can be domesticated, as long as they are constantly fed; a hungry gullion will quickly become aggressive. With their feathers’ ability to change color based on what food they eat, and their ability to survive on virtually any organic matter, they make for popular pets. The prices are steep however. Eggs go for upwards of 40,000 credits with no guarantee on hatching because of the danger that comes with braving a flock to collect the eggs. This is compounded by gullions not breeding in captivity, so the only way to get the eggs is to go to a nest.

Giant Space Hamster (Spelljammer MC): Giant Space Hamsters are from the Gnorri homeworld of Gnorrlish, and have been brought with Gnorri explorers into space. They appear just as they are named, like hamsters of incredible size, some reaching 9 feet in length. These generally docile creatures are found as pets, stock, and pack animals throughout the galaxy. Their genetic structure is highly malleable, making them excellent test subjects for genetic experimentation.

There are many varieties of Giant Space Hamsters from bat-winged abominations, to horned hamsters, to hamsters with shaggy white fur. Most of these varieties are rare and localized to specific planets, but other are either unnatural creations of half-mad geneticists or have been planted on other worlds for various purposes.

(Yes, that’s right, I found a use for one of the most infamously silly creatures in D&D lore! Just wait until I get to the Flumphs!)

Heway (Al-Qadim MC): Heway are high order serpents, not quite sentient, but they are wickedly cunning. The creatures are hated by the colonists and inhabitants of Qadim, so much so that they are often killed on sight.

The scales of the Heway are coated with a poisonous slime. This poison is of no danger with contact to flesh, but it is deadly when ingested. The serpents will find oases and submerge themselves into the water, thoroughly tainted it with their poison. If this water is consumed, the victim will suffer intense pain and hemorrhaging that will often kill them, and the poison also causes paralysis. Even if a creature survives the poison and is left unmolested by a heway, the water source is fouled (requiring extensive filtration and chemical cleaning to make drinkable again) and the next closest water source may be many miles away.

Heway also have a strange, hypnotic stare that can freeze a creature that meets its gaze. This is not a psionic effect, but a strange physical adaptation in the coloration of the eyes that affects the brains of many mammals and avians. Heway typically use this ability to allow them to get clear of dangerous attackers. They do not have very strong bites or venomous bites, so they only eat smaller prey, but this adaptation allows them to access their prey and leave even in the face of strong opposition.

Hurwaet (Spelljammer MC1): Hurwaet are an ancient space-faring species of humanoid reptiles. Originally from the Hurwael system, their main claim to fame is that they were one of the few species to repel the Illithid invasion forces. In fact, their success against the Illithids helped the Concord and Tau to devise strategies that ended the Illithid War.

Hurwaet are not members of an galactic alliance, preferring their independence and therefore their ability to deal with anyone they see fit over constricting themselves for the sake of protection. They are a generally friendly people that are always willing to bargain, yet no one ever gets anything from a hurwaet trader for free.

The Hurwaeti have two distinct races and a mutant off-shoot of one race. Civilized Hurwaet are what most people think of when they hear about the species. Swamp Hurwaet are a less-intelligent and savagely primitive race that makes their homes in the vast swamps that cover their homeworld. These beings live meager lives, though they were not always so primitive. The disastrous Illithid attacks destroyed much of their technology (which was largely gleaned from raids on civilized hurwaet cities and travelers), and they have never recovered. Their antagonistic relationship with civilized Hurwaet, which has only become more violent, only serves to deepen the divide between the two races.

The last hurwaeti race is the Salt Hurwaeti. They are a mutation that occurs in about 3% of the births of swamp hurwaeti. These creatures are huge, hulking, and violent creatures. Upon reaching an age where they are noticeably bigger than their other brethren, salt hurwaeti attempt to kills their clutch-mates and their fathers (and anyone else that stands in their way) before fleeing the village to live largely solitary existences in the swamps and coastlines of Hurwael II. Swamp hurwaeti form hunting parties for these beings, and civilized hurwaeti place large bounties on the heads of salts that evade capture.

Civilized Hurwaeti are available as a PC species.

Insectare (Spelljammer MC2): The Insectare are a strange, humanoid species that controls much of the sector that’s commonly referred to as the Insectare Empire. They look much like Eldar, but have green skin and various insect-like traits like multi-faceted eyes (though this is only noticeable when viewed up close) and two whip-like antennae.

The Insectare have set up a large space station near the access space for the Eldar Relay in the Klintak system, and demand that anyone entering the sector leaves immediately. Those that fail to do so either through stubbornness, mechanical failure, or stupidity is usually destroyed by the large defense force stationed there.

The insular nature of the Insectare Empire leaves many questions. Little official contact has been made with the Empire by any stellar government. Only once has an Insectare envoy appeared before the Concord Senate, and only to state that the Empire has no intention of joining the Concord and expect to be left to their own devices under the threat of war.

Insectares have been captured trying to infiltrate sensitive installations in Concord space, in the Tau Empire, as well as the Batarian Hegemony. Insectare have also been suspected in several terror plots seemingly designed to cause hostilities between stellar nations in states of enhanced tension (such as the Sol Alliance and the Batarian Hegemony or the Centauri Republic and the Narn Regime). It appears to some that they are attempting to destabilize vast areas of the galactic political balance, but their machinations are so widespread as to appear unfocused. Still, many systems have Insectares programmed into their genetic scan watchlists and have orders to detain them.

Lakshu (Spelljammer MC1): The Lakshu are the shock-troops of the Reigar Empire. These well-muscled, beautiful, green-haired amazons have been scourge of anyone that has crossed the Reigar. Only “female” Lakshu have ever been seen, though it has been stated by Lakshu that have deserted from Regiar service, that they do not have any males. The Lakshu form of reproduction is unknown. What is known is while they can “enjoy” the company of other species from both genders, no offspring comes from these couplings, so they are not like the Satyrix in that regard, and they do not reproduce via parthenogenesis like the Asari. It is theorized that they may be cloned by the Reigar and are unable to procreate on their own. The Lakshu have been servants of the Reigar for as long as any Lakshu can remember, and whatever culture they may have had in the past has been totally supplanted by the martial lives of soliders, which is their sole place in the Reigar Empire.

Though it is rare, some Lakshu divisions do leave the Empire to find their own way in the galaxy. These deserters are always targeted for death by Reigar forces when encountered. Most end up in some sort of martial profession from hired thugs, to mercenaries, to security forces. They are available as a PC species, but only if the GM approves.

Lutum (Spelljammer MC1): Lutums are a strange species of shapeshifters that hail from an unknown system supposedly in this galaxy. Their natural form is a blob of material that looks a lot like rolling mud. They can transform into any humanoid or quadrupedal form from 6’ (for humanoids) to 5’ (for quadruped forms). While they can mimic any gender of their chosen species, most tend to take attractive female forms, finding males more pliable when confronted by a beautiful woman. Most Lutum prefer their shapeshifted forms to their natural forms. Their level of shapeshifting is so advanced that only a thorough genetic scan will show them to be anything other than they appear to be.

It is unknown what the goals of the Lutums are, if any. There have been a few instances of what appears to be a Lutum taking the form of government officials and being caught in the midst of what appears to be spying attempts. So far, several Concord members have been targeted, but no lasting damage has been done by their actions. Still, their appearance in high ranking positions has caused alarm throughout Concord space. It is unknown if they are working for a rival galactic power or working for their own benefit/amusement.

Giant Mason-Wasps (Al-Qadim MC): Giant Mason-Wasps are a dangerous insect predator found on the planet, Zakhara. They look like 6 foot long versions of Terran Mason-Wasps, the primary difference being that they are impervious to fire and have a special gland that allows them to breathe gouts of chemical flame. They are largely harmless to humanoids, preferring to feed on the less dangerous creatures found in the vast desert plains. However, getting too close to a hive or otherwise harassing one of these bugs will cause attack.

Mortiss (Spelljammer MC1): Mortiss are space-bound creatures that are a bane to asteroid miners in sectors of the galaxy. These creatures burrow into hulls and spread quickly causing great damage to the structural integrity of a hull in a short time. Though infestations are easily dealt with a healthy application of fire, they can be very dangerous if a miner stumbled upon a mortiss growth on an asteroid as the creatures will a poisonous sting that can cause delusional effects.

Pahari (Al-Qadim MC): Pahari are amphibious, shapechanging humanoids that live in the oceans and coastlines of Zakhara. Their primary form is that of a centauriod with the upper body of a beautiful female human and the lower body of a sunfish. They can transform their lower bodies into humanoid legs for travel on land. While their species has two genders, the differences are internal rather than the typical external differences of most humanoid species. Their culture is advanced with great underwater cities, but they not developed much in the way of weaponry.

The Pahari are a peaceful species that has had peaceful contact with many species and stellar nations. They are currently in talks to join the Galactic Concord, who they have had the most contact with. Few have left their ocean homes, but a few have beyond ambassadors and their retinues. These beings are typically naïve to the dangers of the galaxy, but they sadly soon learn.

Pahari are available as a PC species if the GM approves.

Puffer (Spelljammer MC1): Puffers are a strange form of life that can survive the rigors of space for an indeterminate amount of time in a form of stasis drifting along until coming into contact with a starship, asteroid, or planet where it changes into its active form and becomes a vicious killing machine.

In its dormant state the puffer resembles a tightly-stretched balloon-a featureless sphere floating through space. It can be as large as 40' in diameter, or perhaps as small as half that, depending on how long it has been dormant. Upon close inspection, its smooth skin looks obviously different from an asteroid or other natural object.

When active, the puffer resembles a cross between a crocodile and a scorpion. It has a mouthful of sharp fangs and a poison stinger in its tail, which it keeps curled over its back, ready to strike a foe in any direction.

A puffer can propel itself slowly through space by exhaling a small trickle of air. It cannot approach the speed of starships and cannot enter drillspace, of course, but it can sense any ship or other large object within 100 miles. The puffer slowly approaches the object and, if it can catch it, lands and immediately becomes active.

Puffers have been encountered in a few systems, usually those that are widely traveled and heavily populated. This has lead to the theory that they are a created species that is deliberately planted in certain systems to create and spread havoc. Who would do this is a source of wide speculation from the Reigar, to Insectare, to Illithids, to N’sss, but there is little evidence pointing to any particular stellar nation.

Reigar (Spelljammer MC1): The Reigar are an androgynous humanoid species that controls a vast empire that spans three sectors. They travel the galaxy in living starships called Esthetics. The Empire controls many lifeforms, but only the Lakshu (see entry) are used in any capacity other than manual labor. The Lakshu make up the majority of the Reigar military, with only the Esthetic pilot and ship captain being the Reigar crewmembers.

The Reigar are artisans of great renown. Reigar artwork is well known for its beauty throughout the known galaxy, even though finding pieces outside of the core Imperial worlds is very rare. Their technology is akin to nothing else found in the galaxy as well. Their starcraft are living creatures called Esthetics, and their armor and weaponry is found in the form of jewelry called “shaktis.”

Shaktis are typically worn on the wrists or around the neck (for weapons and armor respectively). When touched, they morph into the item designed. Weapon shaktis can form into any one or two handed ranged or melee weapon, while armor shaktis create armors that look like exo-suits and grants the wearer an AC of 19 or better. These shaktis only work for the specific person it was created for, and typically are only found on reigar and high-ranking Lakshu officers. In the hands of anyone other than the intended user, the shakti is a useless, if not beautiful, piece of jewelry.

The Reigar Empire has had contact with the Galactic Concord and other species like the Tau, Batarian Hegemony, and the Eldar of Craftworld, Zolar. The contact is typically brief and oftentimes ends in conflict. The Reigar have been in an expansionist mode for several centuries now, which has brought them into direct conflict with several other stellar powers. From a species whose culture is legendary, their actions appear to be rather uncharacteristic with their supposed values.

Rock Hopper (Spelljammer MC1): Rock Hoppers are natives of the Wentrill system in the Teleros Sector that are short with a distinctly owlish appearance. They control highly successful mining operations in the vast asteroid fields found in the Wentrill system.

Rock Hoppers (their actual species name doesn’t translate well into Basic and their native tongue is virtually impossible for most species to speak) are a generally peaceful and cordial species. Not only do they mine the asteroids of their home system, but they have also erected an effective defensive system in the fields to protect their homeworld and colonies in the inner system. They have also erected a few starbases in the system to monitor incoming craft and to use as supply stations and to meet foreign dignitaries. Not bad for a species that has yet developed interstellar travel. Few outsiders are allowed on their homeworld thanks to their religious beliefs that call for the sanctity of their planet.

Rock Hoppers are available as a PC species.

Sabu Lords (Al-Qadim MC): Sabu Lords are the apex predators of the few lush plains on the desert world of Zakhara. They are a sentient species, but they are exceedingly arrogant and territorial. Even with faced with modern weaponry, they still feel they have the upper hand, and judging by the body counts some prides have racked up they actually do have the upper hand in many cases. While many have been captured and sold into slavery as exotic pets, the danger in doing so has greatly diminished this practice even moreso than authorities cracking down on slaver gangs.

Winged Serpents (Al-Qadim MC): Winged serpents, sometimes called spark snakes, are colorful reptiles found in Balmoria’s forests and jungles. Winged serpents come in many colors, ranging from sky blue and emerald green to raspberry red. They are supported by invisibly swift, gossamer wings, making them resemble reptilian hummingbirds. When their delicate wings are folded back, winged serpents can move as a common serpent, but they are also able to slither up rough vertical surfaces as well. Though they are from the planet Balmoria in the Ashen Nebula Sector, they have been captured and bred by exotic xenos merchants. Sadly these creatures make terrible pets, and most are released or escape captivity (often times by slaying their handlers) and can now be found on many worlds; often times dealing great damage to ecosystems that prove very suitable to their physiology.

Silat (Al-Qadim MC): Silat are hideous, hulking humanoids standing 12 to 15 feet tall. They have pale blue or green skin and have two curling horns growing from the sides of their heads. To many human explorers that have encountered them, they are described an crone-like, though the species doesn’t have the same sexual dimorphism as other humanoids. The
hair is usually the same color as the skin, but of a darker hue. Their teeth and nails look like yellowed ivory, but are harder and sharper than obsidian.

Silats wander the wastes of their homeworld, Orlisk, rarely having much to do with one another. Small groups will meet up at certain areas, usually in some ancient ruin, to trade and take a mate before wandering off again. Their level of technology is essentially stone age, though it appears they once reached at least an industrial level of technology in their past before whatever ruined their culture befell them.

Mated pairs will stay together long enough for their offspring to an age where they can fend for themselves (about the human equivalent of a 5-8 year old) before the parents drive off the child and then go their separate ways as well.

Silats are a dangerous species. They are very strong and their claws and teeth are very effective weapons. not all Silats are aggressive or violent toward off-worlders. If an off-worlder can proper greet a Silat, then they are treated rather welcoming. However, what is considered a proper greeting is different for every Silat. For some an offering of food or some unique trinket is required, while for others it is to be insulted in a humorous manner. This makes meeting mated pairs even more dangerous as one may be honored while the other takes great offense.

The ruins on Orlisk speak of a time in which the Silats lived in cities and built machines. It is unknown what caused the collapse of their society, and no living Silat knows or even seems to care either. What they do care about is that their ruins are left undisturbed, even by themselves (with the lone exception of their meeting places). Any found exploring a ruin is quickly and mercilessly attacked. It is unknown if there is any religious significance or the possibility that they may be hiding something valuable or sinister…

Skullbird (Spelljammer MC2): Skullbirds are large (wingspans up to 16 feet) carrion birds found in the arid mountain regions of Thrakas IV. They are named for their gruesome heads, which appear to be bird skull covered with an oily, shiny black flesh stretched tight. Their glittering dark eyes are hidden deep in their recessed sockets, and their beaks are jet black and needle-sharp. Skullbirds are covered in oily black feathers and exude a charnel odor. Their wicked talons are like razors.

Skullbirds have no value to explorers. They are far too dangerous for capture, their meat has a very unappealing, rancid flavor that smells even worse when cooked (though it is perfectly edible), and their eggs smell almost as bad when cooked; not to mention the nests are usually inaccessible without the help of some form of flight. They are just all around nasty creatures that are best avoided.

Sleek (Spelljammer MC2): Sleeks are ermine-like creatures from the forests of Inock. They have bright, black eyes, antennae on their muzzles that aid them gauging both the size and distance of their prey. Sleeks have been determined to be nearly sentient creatures, and if they would have been left to their own devices may have evolved into fully sentient beings. However, their curious natures and adorable appearance made them instant commodities for exotic pet merchants. The problem being that if a sleek ever feels threatened they are more than capable of killing their owner. They have been subjected to alien lifeforms, captured and scattered across the galaxy, so while there is a chance that they could possibly evolve into true sapience, it is unlikely as long as off-worlders continue to live on and visit Inock.

Slinker (Spelljammer MC1): Slinkers are small, vaguely bird-like creatures from Naneg V, though they have been found on other planets as well. They are relatively disgusting looking to many humanoid species. They are generally harmless and flee when confronted, but they can be dangerous when encountered in large groups near their nests. They will swarm over a foe and cause their victim to virtually bleed out from hundreds of tiny bites.

Space Swine (Spelljammer MC2): A creation of dohwari geneticists, space swine are one of the most bizarre creatures in the galaxy. They look like Terran wild hogs with a pair of feathered wings. They were created from native swine on the dohwar homeworld for use as stock animals and steeds. They have since been sold to numerous other species and can be found throughout the galaxy.

Stargazer (Spelljammer MC2): Stargazers are the apex predator of Lithic III. They are four-legged reptilian creatures that live in the rocky crags of Lithic III’s vast mountain ranges. It grows thick, rock-hard, crystalline scales that give it its high AC.

The stargazer is often mistaken for a large lump of precious stone amid a larger stone formation or on the ground. The stony, gemlike carapace hides a frog-like mouth lined with razor-sharp teeth, as well as four sharp claws which are kept folded under the stargazer's body.

The hide absorbs sunlight, both to warm the beast's body and to power the beast's main weapon, electric discharges. Hides show a variety of colors and crystalline formations, but generally they are reddish or violet, suggesting deposits of ruby or amethyst. Citrine, emerald and sapphire varieties are also seen.

Stargazers are incredibly dangerous foes, but their crystalline hides are essentially gems of the same type as they appear to be (red crystals are rubies and so forth), making them a veritable walking treasure trove. However, unless the crystals are removed within 20-30 minutes of the stargazer being killed, the rapid breakdown of its body causes the crystals to weaken and become easily shattered into worthless crystalline dust.

Wryback (Spelljammer MC1): Wrybacks are malicious little humanoid creatures that live by scavenging and stealing. They are named for their twisted, rubbery bodies and limbs. They were first discovered on Halavar III, but the cunning creatures have since spread to other systems. They are not truly sentient, but they are cunning and vicious predators. A wryback infestation on a ship or colony can be deadly.

Zard (Spelljammer MC1): Zards are gliding lizards found in the dense jungles of Jubail. They fly in swarms interconnected by their claws. They hunt by flying into prey and swarming over their target, biting and slashing until the prey is dead.

Zodar (Spelljammer MC1): Zodar are mysterious and incredibly powerful humanoids. They are all identical, standing exactly six feet tall. Zodar resemble smooth, deep-black suits of obsidian power armor. This is actually their exoskeleton, which is comprised of a super-strong unknown substance. They have no facial features except for two small slits, which xenologists believe are their sensory organs.

It is unknown where the zodar come from, if its in this galaxy or reality even. They just seem to appear in an area and watch the goings on. To date, they have only been encountered in frontier systems of Concord species, and there are tales that they have encountered the Tau, Protoss, Batarians, Reigar, and other non-Concord species. No one has any real idea what they are doing. Some feel they are assessing the strength and/or worthiness of certain species or cultures. Others believe they are gods (there is a small, yet widespread, cult of Zodar worshippers in the galaxy) sent here to observe and then pass judgment. Whatever their objectives are, the Zodar aren’t saying.

It is also assumed that the Zodar are a species, but two Zodar have never been encountered at the same time. There are only two known Zodar slayings, which is where the information on their biology is known, but it is possible that the Zodar are a singular being that is cloned when one is destroyed. Most researchers disagree with this assertion, however.


Brutorz Bill said...

Some good ones to use here for sure.

Giles Kiser said...

Thanks. D&D is really a perfect source for weird or slightly unusual yet recognizable creatures. Plus, if you want to get silly, you're covered there also!

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