Monday, July 10, 2017

Re-skinning for Ánemos: Monstrous Humanoids

I don't want orcs or goblins or kobolds or giants (get your gently Germanic folkstory hands off of my game!) in my Weird Greek Mythic Fantasy setting, Ánemos, but I want their functionality of intelligent, society having, trap laying humanoid enemies. So let's give the classic D&D monstrous humanoids a facelift, like I did for the playable races. This should be pretty easy because many D&D creatures are already in/based off of Greek monsters, but the Greek versions are usually a lot weirder. (And yes I know that some of these monsters aren't explicitly "mythic", but they come from the weird travel literature written in the Classical period).

Centaurs (They had those in Ancient Greek myth, no real change)
Bacchanalian and feral man beasts, their hedonism and virility are legendary. At the merest whiff of wine they fly into a revelrous rage and can drink a town dry in a night, eating cured meats and the flesh of men with identical abandon. The centaurs claim it is the corrupting influence of the house-people on their innocent natural state that drives them into their rampages. They beg, "Please! Do not bring me more! My distended stomach aches! My liver throbs with wine! My knees grow weak!", but not many speak their strange language....

Any creature, human or otherwise, unlucky enough to lay with a centaur will always bear a centaur child that will gallop out of their womb and straight into the wilds to join the Herd.

It is rumored that if you can keep them out of their cups they are actually a wise culture with deep knowledge of philosophy and astrology. They accept payment in the form of wine or silver, but it is up to the supplicant to make sure that the centaur sage doesn't start drinking until they have answered their questions and they have put some miles between them and the Herd.

Not distantly related to centaurs are satyrs, though they especially love to revel in music and pleasures of the flesh.

Cyclopes (Ogres and Ettins)
Cruel and petty creatures known for keep herds of sheep and men alike to satisfy their hunger for fresh raw flesh. They live solitary lives in caves, but near enough to others of their kind so they can share gossip and gang up on unsuspecting travelers coming to their islands.

They have been known to leave their islands on wanderings, venturing to far off lands on crudely made rafts or stolen vessels to eat exotic meats and sleep under strange rocks. Scholars argue about the purpose of these travels, some propose that this is for mating reasons or migratory instincts while their opponents argue that it is a mechanism of population control to send out small bands of cyclopes to hostile lands to be killed or to conquer.

If you ask the cyclopes they will simply say they are going on an adventure, and you may have to deal with them carefully to avoid ruin. When treated well, ie with lots of hot bloody meat, its possible to steer cyclopes in more productive directions like: adventuring somewhere else, smashing all of this stupid wheat, or building large stone laying projects (cyclopes are surprisingly talented masons). But don't mistake them for eager laborers, they are notorious for cutting corners or eating those that gave them work.

A two eye cyclopes is not unheard of, though these beings have two mind occupying their single body and they bicker incessantly with themselves and everyone they meet.

Hecatoncheires (Giants)
Standing taller than most ship masts the Hundred Handed Ones, the Hecatoncheires, are many armed and many headed giants. Only a few dozen are known to exist, some believe that they were once a race of beings not unlike humans. The story goes that they fought amongst themselves they discovered that the victors could claim the heads and arms of slain opponents until all of those that survived were fearsome hundred armed giants. Others some claim that anyone can become a Hecatoncheires, one must simply rip the head and arms off of an oponent in combat. These limbs are rumored to be attached in a long and painful ritual, with new limbs growing every few years.

Fearsome to behold but more fearsome to quarrel with, the Hundred Handed Ones are smiths of mythic skill. They jealously guard their wondrous creations from any they distrust, which is nearly everyone. Far flung across the many islands of Ánemos they toil away in their volcanic workshops under their isolated fortress isles acting as master, father and god to those that also toil on their behalf. One thing is for certain, they hate and fear each other, always plotting to destroy their brethren. It is a long, quiet, and deadly game of chess.

Spartoi (Orcs)
First made when the Mágos-King of Histria was but a young scholar; he captured, studied, and eventually wed the Drakon of  the Ephyraen Narrows. He learned from his beloved about the many wonderful properties of the teeth of drakes, that among other things they could be planted like seeds in the earth and tireless and loyal servants would rise up after a year and a day. In secret the king studied the teeth that his beloved had gifted him until he discovered a way to grow the teeth in a fraction of the time. He slayed his wife for her rows of razor sharp teeth (and he also bathed in her blood), and with the teeth he grew an army overnight, claiming island after island for his until he grew to the dread figure we are familiar with today.

The Mágos-King is long  entombed, but his great invention the Spartoi still click-clack through the night in Ánemos to do their current masters' bidding. Slay one and the Drakon tooth may remain intact and ready to grow you a new Spartoi that is strong in body if rigid in mind.

Tooth of Drakon: Bury any tooth of a true Drakon in a few inches of soil and water well while chanting the battle song of Histria. In 10 minutes a Spartoi will climb out of the earth to serve you (stats as a 4HD orc). After being slain their is a 1-in-6 chance that it is destroyed, decreasing by 1 for each subsequent use (ie 2-in-6 the second time, 3-in-6 the third, etc). Roll a d6 to randomly determine how many uses a found tooth has.

Cynocephalus (Kobolds)
Once nearly driven to extinction by the taller races of the Spangled Sea the hated Cynocephalus live in far flung den-caverns on quite islands far from Empire. With the swollen heads of dogs and the lumpy bodies of midgets, Cynocephalus are a clever and wicked people with their own barking language and perverse goals. They can hunt like stubby legged dogs and are fiercely devious when devising traps.

Some powerful Cynocephalus witches are said to be able to shape-shift; their preferred forms are that of the hooded seal, griffon vulture, and giant sea slug. All of their forms still have the horrible twisted faces of dogs. These witches' heads are highly valued by Magi working on transmutations.

Some Cynocephalus have been known to tour with menageries or are kept as oddities by collectors (with against their wishes). In the great metropolises of the world there are even small communities of Cynocephalus that live in warrens beneath the slums. Many blame them for spreading the plague and causing birth defects, though that is actually due to the fleas that live in their filthy fur.

Acephali (Goblins, Hobgoblins, Bugbears)
A race bizarre near-humans that have no heads but wear faces are upon their chests. You can tell how old one is by the length of their limbs, a very young one has an adult human sized torso but stubby little arms and legs and a fully grown adult will have freakishly long limbs and will tower over humans. They reproduce asexually by budding a new torso where a humans head would be, and when the new Acephali's torso reaches full size it tumbles off of their parents shoulders and begin to scrabble around on their new hands and feet.

They seem a silly people, prone to extended ludicrous games and extravagant pranks. But be careful! Behind their nasally laughter the Acephali are cruel beings without the capacity or desire to empathize with anyone not of their kind. It is reported that liberated texts from Acephali philosophers describe their belief that they are the only true thinking and feeling beings in Ánemos and that everyone else simple simulates emotion and thought like the beasts of the field.

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