Monsters of Reality – Yes, Even More Planar Creatures!

City of Doors by janroth

“Give ya the dark for some good jink! I know tons, lots of things about distant sights and travels. Don’t let the grungy look dissuade you, I know all about the realms beyond the cage!” – Lanky, Ultroloth-blooded Tiefling Rogue/Planar Fighter, The Hive of Sigil

I’m back at it once more, bringing in some more classic monsters of the Planescape Campaign Setting. While Wizards might eventually port all of these over, I thought I’d bring my take here in the meantime. While I’ve made a reference to the current layout, I should note that my take on Planescape looks back to the AD&D take on it, mostly ignoring any newer creations (such as Post-Spellplague Forgotten Realms, new cosmology elements a la Shadowfell and Feywild, newer takes on races like Tieflings and the like) outside of respective settings such as the Nentir Vale. But, I’ve tried to make that apparent as much as possible in previous posts.

Author’s Note: December is Planescape Month, I guess? Why? Because I love Planescape, that’s why! Also, I noticed I haven’t really tackled enough lawful monsters, so here’s some more from planes of law. Plus, I wanted the squeeze in the Hellcat and the Bladeling in last time, but ran out of time. Also, I wanted to convert a creature from the Dungeon Adventure, “Deep Freeze” (again). Enjoy! Happy Crimbo!

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Weird Western Monsters – Part 5 (Cryptids and Wyld Creatures)

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“There’s living dead, even in the wilderness…  Well, damn.”

“The job is clear.  You shall escort my caravan through the brutal and harsh beast lands, then aid me in distributing these medicinal creations to the people of my tribe. The latter is easy, the former is likely to kill you if you lack the knowledge. As it is, some buffoon who followed me around nearly died, but I taught him some of my ways.  But, he’s not important.  Are you up for this task?  If not, stand aside.  And please, direct questions for my caravan’s scout.  He is knowledgeable on almost all travel matters.  Also, don’t mind the living dead.” – Moonlotus Fadingdusk, a human witch from the Seeking Mind tribe… Or so she says.

There’s a handful of beastly creatures out there in the weird western frontier.  A few varmints aren’t overly harmful, while others are truly malicious.  The vast wilderness requires one on their toes at all times, lest they get torn apart by the seems, some quick snack for a cunning predator.  It’s this reason why rangers and trailblazers join caravans, to minimize casualties outside of civilization.

Author’s Note:  More weird critters, yeah!  I decided a few obligatory folk tales were a necessary add-on, because fur bearing trout and jackalope are truly fun stories.  While it was supposed to be in another post on native inspired folk beasts, I added the accursed wendigo here.  Warning, this one is quite strong!

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Weird Western Monsters – Lupine NPCs and Variants

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“Yeah, Fangs Gulch is a place. I found my way there not long after being bewitched and I started turning into one of them. Anyway, the locals look like those animalmen out in the wilderlands, but they run shops, shoot guns and live life like us. The scotch was something great, I only passed out after two jugs mind you. The butcher served up a nice slice of meat he called ‘furless one’. Even the ladies of the night were good too, even if they’re all hairy and have like eight knockers, real bitey and growly too. Hey, don’t look at me like that! It’s no weirder than the bar owner who screws automatons off-hours! Aww shucks, I really am one of them… – Rawoo (Rowan T. Jammerson), Lupine (Ex-Human) Maverick Rogue

The Lupines, especially the Gray Runners, often receive harsh treatment. Life in the tribes prove hard, but life among the outsiders, exotic travelers and other oddities proves all the more frustrating. Hostility seems inevitable, whether in the realms of trade or battle. Sometimes peace is achieved, but it’s often to suit an agenda. Some have sold their wisdom and secrets to get ahead of the travelers, while others have taken to more vindictive approaches… some reactions truly wicked. Most care about the day by day, appeasing the forces above them while surviving in a harsh world. Until recently, the harvests and hunts have been good, as life has been normal.

Author’s Note: By popular demand, here is more content for the gray runners… or rather, what the concept got expanded into. While they feel not overly different than Mystara’s Lupins (I even made a NPC that uses Lupin mechanics), they seemed pretty popular here. Plus, anything to bring more attention to Spellslinger (in the naive hope that Fantasy Flight Games will convert it to D&D 5E! Ya hear that, FFG!? You’d gain money from joining the new edition!) I pondered on how to expand on serpentmen, based on a request on my Tumblr blog, but my previous post points out that Yuan-Ti work just fine.  For more on The Lupines, please check out this post here.

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Plantfolk, Revised

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Born (Or Reborn) among Wild Realms

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The Plant Folk were created within another reality known to scholars as “arcadia”.  What exactly is this realm?  Not fully known, except it is the origin source of several types of magic as well as the fair folk.   Besides the native denizens, many fantastic creatures have been created through use of their alien magics.  Among these mystical sights and strange places is the Wyld, a sprawling plane of untamed wilderness.  Its alluring and inspiring atmosphere is quite deceptive, as terrible monsters and far worse curses dwell within the spacious demiplane.  Those who become trapped are doomed to become one of the many kinds of wildlife that inhabit this realm.  The plant folk are one such creation.

Native to a domain known as the “Wylds”, a planar place of natural beauty and (at times) savage brutality, the plant folk are at home within the bounds of their typically serene wilderness.  Like the beastfolk, many of these created beings weren’t originally humanoids.  In their case, they were merely plants that were animated and given new life through powerful sylvan magic.  Many have taken after the realm that created them, in hopes of creating a utopia of the organic, while defeating the inorganic.  Despite this, many are by no means evil and aggressive, some don’t even follow the cult-like ethos of their home plane.  Many grow tired of the semi-comprehensible rules, hidden behind the alien chaos of the primal realm.  As such, they’ve set out to explore other possibilities within known (and unknown) reality.  Some still retain attachment to their original home, but hope to “put down roots” elsewhere.

Author’s Note: Looking back at what I made last year, I was wasn’t satisfied with my concept for races of magical plant people.  They seemed really derivative and some decisions felt like rehashes of previous posts, with a different theme.  Now, I’m still struggling a tad with the concept, but here’s my updated take on the idea!  Some of the ideas are something I wanted to try and might be revised in another draft.  Also, I’m sorry for that one pun…  Really, I am.

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Lizardfolk – A Reptilian Race for D&D 5th Edition

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Reptilians, Reptoids, Lizardmen, Reptile folk, Scaled Ones, Scalies.  A wide variety of names describe these creatures. Likewise, a variety of stories detail these creatures.  Whether it’s tales of mysterious scaled beings skulking in tropical rain forests or desert marauders that carry poisoned weapons, tall tales travel quickly… perhaps faster than the lizard people themselves.  No matter what stories ring true, the lizardfolk are a resourceful and enduring race; one that has faced immense hardships going back eons, perhaps before the existence of the “typical” races of today.

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From parts unknown, to realms obscure

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Many choose to dwell within marshy or tropical climates, as it suites their cold blood well.  Others have expanded out to regions that are typically less humid and warm on the average.  These brave souls are typically adventurers or are merely curious about climates beyond what they’re accustomed to.  Some have reported brave souls traveling to frigid areas.  For lizardfolk who don’t come incredibly prepared, such a journey is suicide.  The purpose of these journeys varies as one would expect.  Some seek to expand their territory, others seek new lives.  The allure of fame, fortune, endless possibilities; it’s just as enticing to lizard kind as it is to the humanoids.

In ages past, an advanced society of the scaled kind ventured beyond the stars and into the planes beyond.  Thus were born epics of their people coming into conflict with fiendish underworld dwellers (with traitors switching sides in the process), walking mechanical shapes, fair-like celestials and other oddities.  One account detailed a city ruled by a series of squirrels wearing a headdress, a robe, and a ring of levitation; a cruel over-deity of sorts that smites all in her way.  According to this lore, many a wandering lizardfolk have met their end at the hand of such a monster.  However, the remainder of this famed troupe had returned with glorious anecdotes of cosmic adventure.  Tales of their legendary glory circulate among storytellers, medicine men, bards and even poets among the lizardfolk.  Such plots and campaigns are toted as proof that the lizardfolk are far braver and more intelligent than many rivals give them credit for.

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It Ain’t Easy Being Green

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No one is entirely sure where the lizardfolk came from, not even themselves!  For ages, shamans and storytellers have fabricated their own tales, mostly for amusement.  Some say that they descended from a race of ancients that were pushed below the world in ancient times, only to rise up and claim their own overworld turf.  Others say they were once “fleshy ones”, or perhaps actual lizards, transformed by incredible magical powers.  To others, they have just always been, much like the other races of the material realm.  Origin story never really concerned many of the lizardfolk nations and tribes anyway.  Some assume that the ancients that traveled the planes weren’t lizardfolk, but mythical beings that gave scaled kind the power of sentience.  In many religions, this syncs up with the belief that powerful entities known as the Ancients are the true bringers of life and will one day awaken from their tombs in the center of the world, where they shall unite all life under the scaled ones.

Beliefs in deep gods as well as the strange myths they tote as their origin stories only help to hinder their reputation.  Many view them as a strange oddity at best, foul beasts that must be vanquished at worst.  In many civilizations, the scaled ones are shunned as upright walking beasts incapable of grasping social graces and the nuances of culture.  Even in more metropolitan lands, there comes the base assumption that such creatures are oafish and think through instinct rather than rationality.  As such, traveling lizardfolk are often relegated to demeaning tasks.  This is mostly because most people are quite simply too afraid to enter a land ruled by the lizard folk.  To those who have tried to understand their ways, their society is just as complex and industrious as any other… and likely as flawed.  Much of lizardfolk society is ruled under a strict patriarchal code where Lizard Kings are respected with an almost divine significance.  In times of progress and advancement, the cultures tend to flourish under such reign.  In times of stagnation and regression, the opposite occurs.  Despite what one would assume, lizard women are treated quite well in such a society, even if they don’t hold positions of power.  However, such a tradition has worked well for these people through the ages, even if many outsider eyes view them as overtly sexist and backwards to much of the world around them.

The aforementioned deep gods make up much of the common religions, while existing as cults in more mixed/non-lizardfolk society.  No one is certain if such deities exist, but among the lizardfolk, they are all powerful and all existent.  For many high priests, they see the entombed giants as protectors who watch over the scaled ones while they sleep.  Truth behind this is uncertain, but it might have some basis to theories that they once lived in the center of the planet themselves.  However, members of the scaled church will refuse to answer more on this.

 AUTHOR’S NOTE:  I haven’t done a beastly race, let alone any race in a while.  This one was requested by a blogger on my Tumblr page a looooong time ago.  Whoever you are, I just want you to know that you were never forgotten!  I just get busy is all.  Anyway, here’s my take on the Lizardfolk.  Sure, my fluff exists as a parallel to my gnoll post from many months back, but that need not be a bad thing.

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Avian – A Bird Race for D&D 5e

UPDATE 2019: This post has been moved to Patreon, along with most of my other beastly races.  I don’t like how they turned out and want to use a workshop space to slowly update them. If you’re interested in supporting Doc Necrotic Media and helping to shape these drafts, please click here.

Author’s Note:  The Aarakocra have been rather divisive for a long time.  Their appearance in 5th edition has been no less controversial.  I’ll admit, my version isn’t an attempted fix on what’s dubbed broken.  Rather, it’s my own take on the concept from the ground up, using various species for inspiration.

Created by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media.

Gnolls – now on patreon

EDIT OCT 2018 – You can find the stats on my Patreon page.  The crunch itself remains open to the public.  The rest of the post is found below.

You may find the stats here!

A Gnoll Matriarch Defender

For ages, the Gnoll has been viewed as a threat to developing civilization.  Tales of savage beasts with hyena heads mauling travelers and attacking city walls have struck fear into even the most trained of soldiers.  Their origins are equally mysterious, shrouding them in further mystery and fear.  However, as information spreads and reality dispels mythology, many people driven by old ways began to witness that Gnolls aren’t inherently evil.  Despite their bestial appearance and instincts, they’re more than capable of rationality and guidance.

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Wild Hunters, Clever Survivalists

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Despite many misconceptions and stereotypes, tales of gnolls being able to take down incredible prey as well as stories of them enduring brutal deserts and unforgiving wastelands contain more than enough proof.  For this reason, more accepting lands view the gnoll as a testament to the tenacity of the wild.  Within their own lands, Gnolls forge resourceful societies capable of repurposing much of what they come across, due to harsh lessons learned in barren wastes.  Also, many Gnollish culture have gained infamy for creating little of their own; relying on the ideas and supplies of others.  This has also lead to the troubling assumption that gnollish travelers are actually raiders looking to jump the unlucky wandering that crosses their path.  Being both scavengers and hunters, they’re able to adapt to any land ripe with hunting game or the barest of dead lands.  Such experiences have hardened them as both nomads and settlers.  Besides their impressive endurance, they’re viewed as incredible hunters more than able to thwart the mightiest of beasts.  While this leads to misconceptions of them being savage brutes who care for little more than brutality and bloodshed, they often save “The Hunt” for when they’re certain they’ll need the resources.  While they find little wrong with hunting other humanoids, this is often for the sake of meals rather than pure sport.  However, some populations have made a sport of hunting anyone who comes too close to secretive grounds.  Granted, they usually post significant warnings first.

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Strangers in a Strange Land

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No one is sure of where Gnolls came from, and to be honest, neither do the Gnolls!  Some have rumors that they’re the creations of mad cultists and druids, crossbreeding hyenas and humanoids.  Some suggest they’re the spawns of demonic plane-jumping conquerors, set out to hunt all in the name of Yeenoghu.  Maybe they are the result of a mad Bouda Witch corrupting the nearby lands.  Perhaps they’re just beings exposed to the arcane forces of the Plane of the Wyld, forcefully morphed into bipedal hyena creatures.  No matter the truth, Gnolls take pride in what they are and will defend their existence till the end.  Outside of their own tribes and settlements, they are the epitome of outsider though.  While many beastly folk are infamous for coming across as uncivilized and feral, gnolls face this situation far more often.  Their tendency to feast upon carrion, as well as their bone chilling cackle sound is off putting to those outside of their circles.  Their animalistic instincts have also had tendencies to kick in at bad moments.  While many traditions and actions are socially acceptable at home, they are likely taboo elsewhere.  Horror tales of a gnoll making its way into a funerary service, only to feast upon the corpse have become drunken racist jokes at bars.  Other rumors of gnolls mating or hunting in open streets have only further hindered their social status.  One famous tale that circulates through Gnoll-kind involves a wandering starved outcast gorging himself on the foods of a bazaar, before guards arrived and slew him with extreme prejudice.  This story is often toted as propaganda by those who seek to enforce xenophobia within Gnollish society.

But, this doesn’t mean that gnolls are savages without culture or morality.  Gnoll society is typically matriarchal in nature, with a high queen who proves herself through rigorous challenges.  To the outside eye, most gnolls look the same due to lack of dimorphism of their hyena ancestors.  Despite a matriarchal society, male gnolls do not suffer from discrimination like with the Drow.  However, important choices tend to be favored by females of each clan.  Many societies not dictated or ruled by sex/gender tend to view gnolls as a curiosity or are outright hostile towards their approach for many a reason.  Some view them as inherently sexist or biased in nature, whether or not these claims are actually true.  However, many gnolls from other material planes tote a much darker side.  Names such as Lamashtu and Yeenoghu imply an abyssal origin for countless legions.  These gnolls are creatures of chaos and evil, derived from both hyena and demonic bloodlines.  Their values lie within savagery, butchery and dark tributes to their demonic masters.  While it is uncommon for gnolls to become adventurers, it is even rarer for demonic gnolls to explore with creatures outside of their kind.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Gnolls!  I figure I’d give them some vanilla fluff to make them feel a little closer to actual hyenas rather than stick to the generic D&D lore.  Of course, they wouldn’t be gnolls unless I threw a bone here or there (haha.)  With that, enjoy my take on the race (including an inside joke toward the bottom.)  No matter, here’s another entry in support of the RPG Blog Carnival, particular the Homebrew Holiday Gifts theme for the month of December!