View Full Version : Eldan's Monster Fluff Project

2010-04-27, 05:32 AM
I was thinking to myself: "I'd really like to write some DnD fluff now."
Of course, the question is, what fluff? Homebrew more classes, diseases, feats or monsters? Too many rules involved. Write up one of the half-done campaign settings I have on my computer? Nah.

Instead, I'm going to do something I haven't done yet, and hopefully, the playground will help me.
What does D&D have more than enough of? Monsters. And, as we all know, many of them don't make a lot of sense, and even more just seem to lack the fluff that makes them interesting. So I'm making this a challenge to myself:
You, the playground people, will point me in the direction of monsters you think could be interesting if they just had a little bit more fluff instead of the three lines they got in the Monster Manual CXLIII. Some beast with a very strange diet, where you were always wondering how that thing could survive in the wild. A supernatural creature with a downright weird special attack. A supposedly intelligent creature lacking any kind of culture in the fluff.
Therefore: name me interesting monsters and I'll attempt to write fluff for them. No guarantee that it will actually be good, of course, as this will be just as much an exercise in writing passable English than anything else. After some monsters are nominated, I'll dig through my books and write up an ecology or culture for it, as well as some ingame text, perhaps a hunter's diary or a scholarly text, to go with it.

A few rules, though:

1) Must have stats in D&D 3.5, published in either a Wizards book, or for free online. It's the only edition of D&D I'm really comfortable with, and I should have most books (if I don't, I can't do the monster).

2) Nothing which already has a lot of fluff. No point in writing up more Drow, Dragons or Fiends, really, as they already have books and books of fluff.

Sound like an interesting idea?

To do list:
Assassin Vine
Giant Owls
Celestial Monkeys

Kol Korran
2010-04-27, 06:30 AM
hi again Eldan. too bad that game didn't work out.
on the subject though, check out the link in my signature, i (and two others), have allready done a bit of work of the same nature. we allready have a few monsters there. however, a few monsters that intrigued me, and may deserve a far better fluff:
1) Phasm (MMI)- something to make it unique enough from other shape changers. these guys seem alien in mind to me, but highly intriguing. i can't realy give you any input though.
2) Behir (MMI)- i feel some connection to dragons, but i don't have anything else. Yora suggesed it on my thread, but i could think of nothing to do with it.
3) Trolls: i know there are a lot of legend on them, which is why i think this could be a veryf fulfilling and interesting undertaking. in D&D however they lack any serious fluff. i'd loveto know of their customs culture and relations with other creatures. i think that conceptually they differ from giants quite considerably.
in one of my campaigns i used trolls as a sort of fey- there was the forest of teeth: every night some of the trees transformed into hungry trolls, who would try and feast on any intelligent creature in the forest other than it's natural denzines, unless you got into sacred protective circles of standing stones spread across the forest. being "tree like" they healed quickly from most damage, except for fire....
ok, that story wasn't really on subject, but just an idea on how to perhaps refullf trolls differently.

hopefull note: if you want to add to my thread, please feel free. any sort of format is cool. i'll be honored.
good luck, i'll be sure to read.

2010-04-27, 07:56 AM
The Horde of Souls (Death Giant organization, MM3): When they attacked our village, we thought it was just another bandit raid, but they were... different. They looked tired, starved, beyond exhaustion, some even mistook them for the walking dead, but we all realized what was upon us when we saw his shadow looming over us. A giant born of shadow, armored in black steel, adorned by the very souls of those who have fallen before him in battle. These men were his slaves, pushed beyond their limits under threat of their own souls being added to his collection. Were they here to gather more slaves, soldiers, and supplies for their god-queen, or are they scouting ahead of the main horde, on its way through these lands? I said a prayer asking that they do their work and be on their way, that no more would come after them, that our nation would not be the next to be overrun, as I ran for my life.

The god-queen De'malarine, a powerful death giant (necromancer? warlock? glaivelock?) rules over an army of slaves numbering in the millions. Her lieutenants are often given leave and men to go out raiding, under the condition that upon return they pay her tribute from the souls they've gathered. She cannot keep her horde in the same place for long, as food and water will quickly run out under their vast appetite. Entire nations have easily been overrun, often by their own residents under threat of losing their souls. De'malarine possesses a wealth of gold and jewels to rival that of the oldest dragons, and seems to enjoy using that wealth to manipulate her stronger adversaries. Her giant lieutenants fear her, as none could hope to stand against her in battle. Punishment for failure is often the forfeiture of souls, sometimes every soul one owns. In extreme circumstances, such as refusal to relinquish the required souls, a giant may be executed and their souls simply taken. Rumor has it De'malarine has gained such mastery over her souls that she can even reanimate a soul she possesses to some semblance of its former body, and command it to fight on her behalf.

The slaves frequently take their own or each others' lives away from the giants, in an effort to see their soul off to a proper afterlife. The giants employ bosses and informants among the slaves to prevent this, and the slaves are kept under close watch and not given weapons unless going into battle. No soul is ever spared, a slave's only hope is to please the giants in order to survive. The giants keep a pecking order among the slaves, and it is possible for one to move up if he proves himself particularly useful. Higher ranks have their benefits, such as higher chances of surviving longer. As food and water begin to run out the lower class of slaves grow eager to travel and raid new lands, as they most often will be the first to go hungry.

2010-04-27, 09:56 AM
I'd also love to see something on the Behir, it's a creature that's really a touch of an oddball, a nice unknown to throw at players with constrict, rake, swallow whole and all the other nice things it can do... :)

The Tygre
2010-04-27, 10:01 AM
Tell me of the Assassin Vine.

2010-04-27, 10:35 AM
I'd also love to see something on the Behir, it's a creature that's really a touch of an oddball, a nice unknown to throw at players with constrict, rake, swallow whole and all the other nice things it can do... :)
Just as a point of interest, the Behir has it's roots in real-world (Celtic) mythology...can't find a link, unfortunately, but I'm pretty certain.

[edit]Found it! Beithir (http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O70-beithir.html).

beithir [ScG, bear, serpent, wild beast; dragon (?)]. A word in early Scottish Gaelic narratives for an undetermined savage creature. It may be a translation of the Norse word for ‘bear’, but it may also mean ‘thunderbolt’. The beithir may have a long tail, but it never appears to be the fiery winged dragon of Germanic tradition. In more recent oral tradition the beithir is a class of fuath who haunts caves and corries (narrow circular valleys with high walls). It may also imply ‘lightning’ or ‘serpent’. A mountain south of the entrance to Glencoe is named Ben Vair or Ben Vehir, thought locally to commemorate a beithir who took shelter in Corrie Lia.

The Tygre
2010-04-27, 11:00 AM
Just as a point of interest, the Behir has it's roots in real-world (Celtic) mythology...can't find a link, unfortunately, but I'm pretty certain.

[edit]Found it! Beithir (http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O70-beithir.html).

Whoa. :smalleek: I'm impressed. Score another monster for the forces of real world mythology. :smallcool:

2010-04-27, 11:28 AM
I would love to see some more fluff on the garillon


2010-04-27, 11:49 AM
Classic critters that could use some flavoring;

Giant Owls (we at least have Lord of the Rings to give us a feel for Giant Eagles, but Giant Owls just sit there, with the Great Owl from Secret of NIMH as our only fantasy example)

Hags (are they connected to trolls, ogres, ettins, athach or other giants? are they born from humans they've seduced, or from humans who have been corrupted?)

Rocs (is there anything mystical about their origins, or are they just big birds?)

Various bits of alternate fluff I like;

1) Goblins, Hobgoblins and Bugbears as three different types of unseelie fey, long since left their shadowy homeworld and come to earth. Their seelie counterparts are, respectively, Gnomes, Elves and a third race that is now extinct on the mortal plane, because the Bugbears are just that darned scary.

In the realms of the fey, more mystically connected versions of each of these five species exist, as different from their worldly counterparts as Drow are to Elves, or Ogre Magi are to Ogres.

Adding fey ties to creatures like the Aranea and Athatch could also jazz them up. (With the Athatch and Ettins, in particular, making a nice chassis around which to base a Formorian race.)

2) The dragon-descended kobolds of 3.0 call themselves Wyrmkin, and have no relationship with the ape-dog-men called Kobolds, who work in mines and forges for other humanoid races.

The Wyrmkin are born from unfertilized eggs that 'single' female dragons produce a few of each year (with up to a half-dozen wyrmkin coming from a single egg). They are fanatically loyal, even worshipful, of their 'mothers,' who alternately treat them as minions or even pets, or drive them forth to annoy other peoples, or eat them, depending on that particular dragoness and her whims. Each has qualities based on the color of their parent, with weak energy resistances (1 / HD, to 5), movement types similar to 'mom' (icewalking for whites, swimming for greens, blacks and whites, etc.) and similar abilities (hold breath, sound imitation, etc.).

2010-04-27, 01:53 PM
I've added all those to the list, I'll try and get creative tomorrow. Some ideas for the troll are already floating around.

The Roc or Rukh, by the way, is pretty much just a gigantic bird, originally from arabian myths. I know they show up in Marco Polo (an eagle with feathers a dozen paces long) and in Sindbad's Journeys. I think it's there where it's mentioned eating elephants mostly.

2010-04-27, 01:58 PM
Vargouilles. All we have are where they come from, and where they live, but they look like they could have interesting fluff.

2010-04-27, 02:05 PM
I think they got a little more fluff in Planescape, but I'l lsee what I can come up with. They are also legendary creatures from somewhere. Asia, I think?

2010-04-27, 02:22 PM
I wondered if Girallons were basically the four-armed white gorillalike creatures in Edgar Rice Burroughs's Mars series.

2010-04-27, 02:32 PM
Haven't read those, but the description sounds accurate, at least.

Kol Korran
2010-04-28, 05:59 AM
Hags (are they connected to trolls, ogres, ettins, athach or other giants? are they born from humans they've seduced, or from humans who have been corrupted?)

Set, check out the link in my sig, the last or close to last entries deal with the hags. at least my take on things. may be a bit different than usuall, but i think i stayed within the theme.
I've also dealt with the Aranea in my own way, though i'm not so sure how that article turned out.

warning: both are a bit long.

i have a tendency to elaborate.

2010-04-28, 07:11 AM
I'd like to see some fluff on Celestial Monkeys. Yes they're jus monkeys with the celestial template but every Wizard EVER has summoned them as trap fodder at some point. If you feel like it...:smallbiggrin:

Otherwise maybe the Ravid.

2010-04-29, 08:31 AM

Not a bad job, all considered. It involves hanging from trees all night and lying in the mud all day, but then, most jobs seem to do that, these days. And at least the crazy gnome hadn't skimped on the equipment: alchemist's fire, for when the situation gets hairy, and an oily black paste, chameleon salve, he called it, which both masks my scent and takes on the same colour as whatever terrain I happen to be standing in. Not sure if I would have needed it, this Troll is stupid as a sack of straw, but better careful than dead, I reckon.
Anyway. One interesting thing to note today: while for the last two weeks, the troll was busy hunting down and pouncing everything that moved (and a few things that didn't, including an apple tree and a circle of mushrooms), from deer to kobolds, this day it did something new.
There was a skirmish, recently, on the old road near the rift. A band of robbers ambushed a guarded caravan, and the corpses were still fresh. I had expected the troll to just eat the corpses, like they are known to do, but this time was different, in a way. It started by carefully ripping off the limbs of four of the corpses and swallowing them, without even chewing much. Then it did something surprising: it carefully separated the heads from the torsos and piled them up in a small heap before chewing up the bodies.
After it had done so, in a disgusting mess of blood and guts, it took up the skulls, one by one, and, with more dexterity than I thought these clawed paws had, cracked each skull and removed the brains. It searched around for a while, then found a sharp rock and proceeded to cut deeply into it's shoulders four times, inserting the brains into the cuts before they healed up again.
It grunted excitedly for a while in it's crude language, then picked up the cracked skulls, two in each hand, and began to run at full speed. Let me tell you something: running after a troll without being seen isn't easy, and given that they have the stamina to go on running for half a week without pause doesn't make it any simpler.
It finally stopped in front of the cave I'd seen it use as a sleeping place earlier and, almost as if it was a ceremony, took the skulls and placed them on a flat stone then, without much pause, it ripped into it's shoulders with it's bare hands, ripping out the brains it had stored there and putting them back in the skulls. Then began the shouting.
A trolls cry is loud. It shakes the leaves of the trees, and left me mostly deaf for the better part of ten minutes. After staring expectantly at the cave for almost half an hour, it turned around and left. Curious, I waited another two hours near the cave entrance, until a fox came to eat the brains, certain that I could just follow the broad trail of destruction the troll had left behind. I don't know what I saw there, maybe a primitive ritual to some troll god, maybe something else. Who will ever know what goes through the heads of these dumb critters."

-Vescero Keleen, Royal Ranger, in a report to

Origin of the Trolls

To understand Troll culture today, one must first go back thousands of years, to their creation, as their origin explains many of their strange behavioural and physiological quirks. Sages have speculated for a long time how Trolls came to be: were they the creation of a god, as so many of the truly old creatures are? Magical accidents or extraplanar? A long-standing theory placed Trolls as ogres or hill giants warped by far realm influence, but newest evidence found on the astral plane points in a different direction:
Trolls are a mind flayer creation.
While they have little similarity to the tentacled Illithidae from the flayer's homeworld, they nevertheless first came to be in the ancient, star-faring empire of these time-traveling aberrations.
Trolls first were created as a merging of two separate lines of mindflayer monstrosities: on one side were warped shock troops and enforcers the mindflayers had created from humanoid or giant stock, on the other side an abomination the gith of today remember in an old legend as the eater of husks. This creature, a formless, endlessly growing mass of grey flesh, was used by the illithids to dispose of slave corpses and, in turn, produce a food substance, so called nutrition bulbs, they could feed their slaves with. A surprisingly efficient system to supplement slave-driven agriculture.
The empire used the trolls not only as powerful troops in the war against the gith rebellion and their steel weapons, but also to hunt down and devour slaves who had escaped the mental control of their masters. Their enormous food requirements where inconsequential for them, as forerunner slaves could be supplied in almost limitless numbers.
After the collapse of the illithid empire in the fires of rebellion, trolls were left behind on many of the worlds once controlled by the mindflayers, but now purged from them, left alone to in the wilderness.

More, including the ecology and "culture" of trolls today, coming later.