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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

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Posted - 17 Aug 2018 :  01:14:09  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
I've got a throw-away reference to a valley in the Earthspur Mountains just south of the Glacier of the White Worm that is filled with fearsome predators endlessly tearing each other apart, in the absence of any other prey, as they are unable to escape the valley.

The valley is stocked by a Deepspawn, of course.

What would be good monsters to feature as the fearsome beasts?

They need to be:

1) Preferably native to the Earthspur Mountains or surrounding environments, though it's not an absolute deal-breaker if they aren't. Still, it would be more elegant if the monsters in question were suitable for the Moonsea North and the Vast.

2) Small enough to be spawned by a deepspawn (which can be of Advanced size, if needed), but large enough for humans, orcs and dwarves to find them terrifying beasts. Also, large enough not to be able to escape through a tunnel passable by a nimble dwarven scout (and, ideally, courageous human spelunkers).

3) Not intelligent enough to figure out a way out of the endless cycle of violence. Preferably of animal intelligence, but would accept cunning hunters, provided they are acceptably bestial, brutish and violent.

4) Unable to fly, climb or burrow out of a high mountain valley with sheer cliffsides, or at the very least extremely challenging mountain paths and climbs.

5) Cool-looking and suitable for a rousing tall tale of huge fierce beasts rending each other.

6) Carnivorous predators. Obviously.

Please suggest some beasts, fellow scribes!

All suggestions welcome.

---

Monsters I've been mulling about include:

Remorhazes vs. frost worms

Grizzly bears vs. snow tigers

Athach vs. ettins

Digesters vs. cave trolls

Owlbears vs. hook horrors

Worgs vs. trolls

I've also considered having three types of fearsome beasts tearing at each other in the valley.

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Edited by - Icelander on 17 Aug 2018 01:18:19

Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1577 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2018 :  18:32:04  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Related to 'looking cool', D&D trolls weigh famously little for their height. At 9' tall and 500 lbs., they have the approximate build of someone 5'6", 120 lbs., i.e. a gymnast or a ballet dancer. In fact, Summer Glau was around that height and weight in Fiirefly. Of course, human muscle is a lot heavier than the softer, smoother and more delightful parts of Ms. Glau's anatomy, so the proper comparison is probably a very slender athlete of 5'6" who's been starved and dehydrated to make weight at 120 lbs., being little more than bones, sinews and a thin layer of ropy, veiny muscle tissue.

Fair enough, D&D trolls are skinny, wiry, stringy beasts.

The MM picture of 'Trolls, Cave' shows them as having thicker limbs than normal trolls, decent width of shoulder, some horns and even a paunch. All in all, probably a 'normal' build compared to the very skinny regular trolls, which would make them about 30-40% heavier for their height. Unfortunately, however, cave trolls, despite being described as stronger than regular trolls and the statistics certainly bearing them out as tougher and more massive, stand 10' tall even while hunched and weigh only 800 lbs.

Now, assuming we treat both regular trolls and cave trolls as hunched, cave trolls are a foot taller. This means that adjusting for height, cave trolls are exactly as bulky as normal trolls. If we assume that normal trolls are 9' at full extension while cave trolls are more hunched over, it doesn't help. It would simply make the real height of cave trolls greater and the ratio of their height to weight thus even skinnier than normal trolls.

Now, we have three potential solutions available:

A) Troll flesh and bones are much less dense than human flesh and bones and the cave troll is even less dense than other trolls, so much so that they cannot sink in water and can in fact float with a man in full armour on top of them. I don't like this one.

B) The MM picture and description of cave trolls is wrong and they ought to be every bit as emaciated as other trolls. Nor do I like this one, as that makes cave trolls pretty much just "slightly taller trolls with much better stats, but dumb as a doornail"' instead of them appearing as something of a debased hybrid between giantkin, ogres and trolls.

C) The weight listed in the MM is a consequence of D&D writers having no sense of scale and editors rarely doing basic math to make the numbers fit the descriptions (or common sense). The weight was supposed to be something like 1,000-1,200 lbs.

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Icelander
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Posted - 17 Aug 2018 :  18:50:19  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hook horrors, of course, at 9' tall and 350 lbs. (2e Monster Manual) to 400 lbs. (3e/3.5), judging by numerous pictures of them, apparently have a density of less than half that of water, superstrong exoskeleton, long limbs with claws capable of piercing stone and cleaving steel, and all.

I wonder if it's a desirable feature or not. It leads to properly treated exoskeletons being superb boats, their chitin being far better and lighter armour than steel and their claws being awesome glaives or axes, as they are much lighter than wood, much stronger, much harder and obviously hold an edge better than steel.

I'm not against monster parts being cool treasure, but I wonder if hook horror stuff really needs to be this light? Shouldn't at least their exoskeleton and claws be infused with heavy minerals or metals, to give some kind of explanation for the hardness and toughness?

Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!

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Edited by - Icelander on 17 Aug 2018 18:51:13
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
7374 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2018 :  23:50:17  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

Related to 'looking cool', D&D trolls weigh famously little for their height. At 9' tall and 500 lbs., they have the approximate build of someone 5'6", 120 lbs., i.e. a gymnast or a ballet dancer. In fact, Summer Glau was around that height and weight in Fiirefly. Of course, human muscle is a lot heavier than the softer, smoother and more delightful parts of Ms. Glau's anatomy, so the proper comparison is probably a very slender athlete of 5'6" who's been starved and dehydrated to make weight at 120 lbs., being little more than bones, sinews and a thin layer of ropy, veiny muscle tissue.

Fair enough, D&D trolls are skinny, wiry, stringy beasts.

The MM picture of 'Trolls, Cave' shows them as having thicker limbs than normal trolls, decent width of shoulder, some horns and even a paunch. All in all, probably a 'normal' build compared to the very skinny regular trolls, which would make them about 30-40% heavier for their height. Unfortunately, however, cave trolls, despite being described as stronger than regular trolls and the statistics certainly bearing them out as tougher and more massive, stand 10' tall even while hunched and weigh only 800 lbs.

Now, assuming we treat both regular trolls and cave trolls as hunched, cave trolls are a foot taller. This means that adjusting for height, cave trolls are exactly as bulky as normal trolls. If we assume that normal trolls are 9' at full extension while cave trolls are more hunched over, it doesn't help. It would simply make the real height of cave trolls greater and the ratio of their height to weight thus even skinnier than normal trolls.

Now, we have three potential solutions available:

A) Troll flesh and bones are much less dense than human flesh and bones and the cave troll is even less dense than other trolls, so much so that they cannot sink in water and can in fact float with a man in full armour on top of them. I don't like this one.

B) The MM picture and description of cave trolls is wrong and they ought to be every bit as emaciated as other trolls. Nor do I like this one, as that makes cave trolls pretty much just "slightly taller trolls with much better stats, but dumb as a doornail"' instead of them appearing as something of a debased hybrid between giantkin, ogres and trolls.

C) The weight listed in the MM is a consequence of D&D writers having no sense of scale and editors rarely doing basic math to make the numbers fit the descriptions (or common sense). The weight was supposed to be something like 1,000-1,200 lbs.



C

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
7374 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2018 :  23:51:35  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

Hook horrors, of course, at 9' tall and 350 lbs. (2e Monster Manual) to 400 lbs. (3e/3.5), judging by numerous pictures of them, apparently have a density of less than half that of water, superstrong exoskeleton, long limbs with claws capable of piercing stone and cleaving steel, and all.

I wonder if it's a desirable feature or not. It leads to properly treated exoskeletons being superb boats, their chitin being far better and lighter armour than steel and their claws being awesome glaives or axes, as they are much lighter than wood, much stronger, much harder and obviously hold an edge better than steel.

I'm not against monster parts being cool treasure, but I wonder if hook horror stuff really needs to be this light? Shouldn't at least their exoskeleton and claws be infused with heavy minerals or metals, to give some kind of explanation for the hardness and toughness?



Just to note, some earlier dragon articles dealt with using hook horror exoskeletons to make armor.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
7374 Posts

Posted - 18 Aug 2018 :  00:26:42  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Bearhound (MM3)
winter wolves
Mastodon (MM3)
quaraphon (MM3)
tusk terrors (MM5)
cave dinosaurs (miniatures handbook)

throw the half-troll template on something relatively normal just to make it weird.



Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas

Edited by - sleyvas on 18 Aug 2018 01:15:03
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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1577 Posts

Posted - 18 Aug 2018 :  16:03:55  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Just to note, some earlier dragon articles dealt with using hook horror exoskeletons to make armor.


And I certainly want to encourage the use of exoskeleton armour.

But I wonder whether such armour should be five times less dense than leather and therefore only 20% the weight of leather armour, assuming the same thickness.

Personally, I'd prefer it be much harder and tougher than leather, but it doesn't have to be less dense as well. If it has a specific density of less than half that of water, it's probably infinitely stronger than steel by weight, as the Hook Horror has equivalent protection to steel Full Plate harness from his exoskeleton, which cannot be all that thick on his limbs and other flexible locations.

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TBeholder
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1702 Posts

Posted - 19 Aug 2018 :  11:24:16  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

Related to 'looking cool', D&D trolls weigh famously little for their height. At 9' tall and 500 lbs.
BTW, source on weight?



quote:

Fair enough, D&D trolls are skinny, wiry, stringy beasts.
[...]
Now, we have three potential solutions available:

A) Troll flesh and bones are much less dense than human flesh and bones and the cave troll is even less dense than other trolls,

Trolls need to be fairly light for any narrations where trolls get knocked away by anything less than a minotaur or very big orc.

What they partially consist of plant or fungal tissue?

quote:
so much so that they cannot sink in water and can in fact float with a man in full armour on top of them. I don't like this one.

Only as long as it doesn't drown. Trolls have lungs. Probably.

quote:
C) The weight listed in the MM is a consequence of D&D writers having no sense of scale and editors rarely doing basic math to make the numbers fit the descriptions (or common sense). The weight was supposed to be something like 1,000-1,200 lbs.

That, too.

People never wonder How the world goes round -Helloween
And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense -R.W.Wood
It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo. -Ed Whitchurch
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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

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Posted - 19 Aug 2018 :  17:20:10  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Sources for troll weights include the 3.5 Monster Manual (2003) p. 247. No doubt it's in other MM books featuring trolls as well, but that's the one that was handy.

In any case, trolls have been described as 'skinny', 'thin', 'frail' and with similar descriptive terms ever since their first appearance in (A)D&D. This, of course, goes back to their inspiration in the fictional archetype found in Poul Anderson's 'Three Hearts and Three Lions (trolls exist in mythological sources, but rubber-skinned, emaciated, long-nosed regenerating trolls came to D&D through Anderson's work).

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TBeholder
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Posted - 20 Aug 2018 :  10:56:55  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message  Reply with Quote
BTW, yes, this regeneration thing. It needs extra material.
So a troll needs to be that weird plus something like a living protomatter collector. Do they still regenerate if Ethereal is inaccessible? !!SCIENCE!! is required. Also, do they quickly wither and "dry up" when killed? Because if not, that would make them far too good as a food source (for dragons, oozes, etc).
This function could be also provided by a symbiotic plant, something like infinity vine.

People never wonder How the world goes round -Helloween
And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense -R.W.Wood
It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo. -Ed Whitchurch
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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1577 Posts

Posted - 20 Aug 2018 :  17:29:17  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Bearhound (MM3)
winter wolves
Mastodon (MM3)
quaraphon (MM3)
tusk terrors (MM5)
cave dinosaurs (miniatures handbook)

throw the half-troll template on something relatively normal just to make it weird.


Thanks for that.

I'm definitely using the Cave Dinosaurs for something else. Tusk Terrors and Quraphons are really freaky.

The Miniatures Handbooks contains a bunch of interesting monsters. I hadn't remembered about that. Thanks a lot for pointing me toward it.

Displacer Serpents are totally going in my subterranean Unthalass setting. I'll find a way to use Shadow Beasts somehow, mainly because the Girrash are cool.

And the Kruthik and Mad Slashers seem like suitable fearsome beasts to tear apart Cave Trolls and/or Digesters in my Valley of Frenzied Beasts.

Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!

Forgotten Realms fans, please sign a petition to re-release the FR Interactive Atlas
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
7374 Posts

Posted - 20 Aug 2018 :  23:44:58  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Bearhound (MM3)
winter wolves
Mastodon (MM3)
quaraphon (MM3)
tusk terrors (MM5)
cave dinosaurs (miniatures handbook)

throw the half-troll template on something relatively normal just to make it weird.


Thanks for that.

I'm definitely using the Cave Dinosaurs for something else. Tusk Terrors and Quraphons are really freaky.

The Miniatures Handbooks contains a bunch of interesting monsters. I hadn't remembered about that. Thanks a lot for pointing me toward it.

Displacer Serpents are totally going in my subterranean Unthalass setting. I'll find a way to use Shadow Beasts somehow, mainly because the Girrash are cool.

And the Kruthik and Mad Slashers seem like suitable fearsome beasts to tear apart Cave Trolls and/or Digesters in my Valley of Frenzied Beasts.




Yeah, I like the Ghirrash visual so much that I was putting some "native" versions over in Katashaka without ties to shadow, basically because displacer beasts, kamadans, and kamatlans are pretty common and these "humanoids" are like a variation of them possibly created by possibly one of the creator races long ago.

These red wizards however also face much more determined and dangerous foes, many of whom possess powerful magics themselves. Latoombe, City of Tricksters, is a city ruled by a council of rakshasa which also possesses many shapeshifting cat folk including many lyncanthropes (such as weretigers, werepanthers, werejaguars, and wereleopards) whose humanoid form is often that of a gnoll or tabaxi. The common folk of this city are the Paka, an anthropomorphic cat folk of all colors normally found amongst cats great and small, many of whom are warlocks or priests beholden to powers of the nine hells. The Paka are shapechangers which can take on human form, but which also have the ability to see and hear through the eyes of nearby cats and other feline creatures, as well as the ability to dominate such creatures to their will. There is also a type of catfolk that the red wizards call the Ghirrash, a black-furred, sometimes tiger striped (both white and orange), and sometimes leopard spotted breed of humanoid cat folk who some believe to be related to the displacer beasts due to their four arms and natural displacement ability. Whether these cat folk are truly related to the shadowbeasts known as the Ghirrash is debatable, as these Ghirrash lack many of the traits common to creatures of the shadowfell, and they actually call themselves the Pumaji. There is also a race of catfolk similar to the Pumaji in coloration, but rather than 4 arms, they have two arms and 4 snake-headed tentacles that grow from their shoulders, and their tails sometimes end in rattles. This race is known as the Kamadji, and many notice an obvious similarity between them and the kamatlan cat. Also, unlike the Pumaji, they lack the displacement effect. The numbers of humans being sacrificed upon the altars of this city has risen markedly since they began to leave the safety of the Katashakan Priador, and this city's owlcat mounted cavalry has even been known to raid the Katashakan Priador in the middle of the night.



Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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