Sunday, May 17, 2020

d66/d36 Monsters of the Taiga and Tundra.

From the Glowering Mossy Moors, we find ourselves tramping through snowy forests of conifers that run right against the treeless expanse that encircles the mysterious and unexplored Deep Ice. Nights and days can be measured in short hours or long weeks, and boiling water can freeze in an instant when taken from the flame. Summers, while short, are wet and fecund.


The Taiga and the Tundra are not unsettled, nor utterly hostile, but this is about the monster part of worldbuilding.


As usual, these are system agnostic but D&D adjacent, and the spread of probabilities has not been balanced.





The Mother of All Bears (1).

Bigger than any bear you’ve seen; wears jewellery; prehensile tail; telepathic; spells & magic items. Judge, benefactor and avenging fury of this place.


Waterwolf (1).

Giant carnivorous otter/seal. Haunts the marshes and rivers, but also at home in the forests and on the deep ice. Feared and venerated.


Furry Hunters.

Shaggy carnivorous humanoids armed with long-barreled muskets; very protective of their young. Nomadic, follow the migrating herds. Believed to come from the deep ice, where they use kite- and sail-powered sleds.



Dual-wield cleavers and/or butchering knives; campfire gatecrashers; can be bought off with wine, but will track you down later. Under-dressed for the weather. Surprisingly graceful dancers.



Blue with cold, long red noses; skirts of hide, fur, skin, decorated with jangling scraps; jagged stone knives & flaming torches that won’t blow out; play a selection of instruments made of bones, toenails, tendons and skin. Complain about the cold but will melt away if they spend too long by the fire.



Naked, so white, with all-black eyes & jagged bright red hands and mouths; you can never see their feet; live in Frost Drake tunnels; raise human children as shaman/sorcerers; vulnerable to iron, but not to holy. Can remain unseen to mere mortals.


Frost Drake (1).

Multiple pairs of legs, scales, pelican jaw, shaggy mane head to tail tip, alicorn; superheated insides; curious, not-unfriendly, intelligent animal; excavates/melts extensive tunnel lairs.


Blood Puddings.

Leathery pods containing a meat-like ooze. Use charm to have you keep it close to your body, keep it warm and protect it. Finds it easier to convince you to let it take small amounts of blood, but prefers you to kill so it can feast. Intelligent, but selfish and unimaginative. They are found in groups initially, but one with a host will have it destroy the others.



Bearded redheads from prehistory (reskinned B/X Elf). Stone Age equipment. Invisible environment-controlled dome cities full of wondrous and mysterious technology, hidden in the ice. Vulnerable to vampirism. Friendly with Hairy Brutes.


Abandoned Creations.

Odds/evens, they’re frozen solid (but can be revived/thawed); undead, flesh golems, clockwork, living statues etc. How long have they been here? Why are there so many?


Wind Walkers.

Gruesome aerial ghouls; levitate and then drift/fly on the winds; burrow under the earth/ice/snow during the day, but can go out just fine in a blizzard. You can never see their feet.


Squid Heads.

Low-rent, off-brand mindflayers; hate Furry Hunters; black-powder spear guns; levitate and fly like Wind Walkers; conquer & move into lairs; hunt Frost Drakes. Skinny, warty and mauve.


Father of Toads (1).

It’s just a name; giant, shaggy toad; can survive freezing solid; can squash itself down to hide in shallow water/long grass; grows as big as food allows; long drawn out roar from throat generates confusing vibrations; swallows whole; carries its young in its pelt.


Winter Dryads.

If more than 1, it’s the mustering of a warband. Human civilization might not be their target. Friendly with Hairy Brutes.


Nomadic Worm (1).

Colossal armoured tank of a thing; two huge feathered mandibles; huge gem-like eye spots all along its body blink with coloured lights; blast furnace gut/jaws; emerge as Ravenous Larvae in the taiga, survivors devour all in its path to the ice to pupate.


Phoenix Moth (1).

Adult form of the Nomadic Worm; vast, fiery and beautiful; fertilisation by eating the males; females then fly to the taiga to lay eggs, then die; extinguish, discolour and liquefy in a matter of hours; residue is highly prized.


Ravenous Larvae.

Lucky for you, they’re just as keen on eating each other; unlucky for you, they’re eating everything anyway. As long as they don’t all start coming after you at once, you should be able to get away.



You can’t really tell the difference between them; friendly, welcoming, generous through the long night; at daybreak, they’ve taken down their tents, put out their fires and left you asleep in a snowdrift. Outdoors, under the moon, they become flesh-eating killers. Can see Elves and smell Goblins.


Hairy Brutes.

Don’t speak your language; they’re definitely subhuman cannibals that need to be wiped out.

A sophisticated, highly cultured society that hasn’t been given a decent break since your kind started competing for space on the savannah.

The Mother of All Bears loves them like her own cubs.


Mounted Wights.

(d6) Palanquin carried by Winter Woses; Sleigh pulled by Skeletal Giant Elk(s); Howdah on a Skeletal Mammoth; Saddled on a Skeletal Sabre-tooth; Cage carried by a Skeletal Giant Bird; Warband on Ghoul Horses.



There’s tension between the locals and the tourists. Tourists have cordial relationships with Squid Heads and share their lairs. Locals don’t like sharing the endless night, nor the disruption to infiltrated prey communities.



Brutal elementals; hairless naked Dwarves of solid ice; strong as giants; vulnerable to fire, but extinguish it; they can just about tolerate Vampires and Winter Dryads, but all other things must bow and perish before the snow. Have never bested the Mother of All Bears.


Boreal Bugbears.

Much shaggier than their subterrene kin; grey to white fur; know where Black Ichor bubbles to the surface and where lie the old Hyperborean temples to Tsathogghua.


Mi Go.

Mining rare elements either from the earth, or the ice itself; searching for something buried in the ice from ancient days, so know where lots of other things are; disguised as Furry Hunters, Hairy Brutes or Boreal Bugbears, they are almost convincing. Uneasy truce with Hyperboreans.


Shaggy Beast (1).

A hill of a thing; a baggy, boneless mound of elephant hide on stumpy legs that come and go. Draped in writhing hair, with an unanchored mouth flap that can extend and twist into a trunk. People say it’s a rogue bear or possibly an extant mastodon, but they’ve never seen it. Horribly strong, barely sentient.


Flickering Eidolon (1).

Reskinned Boggart (1e AD&D MM2). Believed to be spirits of the dead, but who can say if it’s true.


Children of the Pines.

Sap-infused undead children riding white-and-red Elf Hounds (Elves transformed with a special bridle); reskinned B/X halflings that get AC bonus vs. human-sized. They want to drive adults off, rather than kill them – but will: the taiga is their Neverland.


Lonely Shoggoths.

Vaguely humanoid lumps of leathery flesh. Split-off from their main mass, they want to be reunited; miserable in a way individual intelligences can’t understand; enjoy poetry and music; sometimes tag along with Goblins.


Winter Woses.

Much like Wood Woses, but look more like Hairy Brutes. Hate Vampires, especially tourists.


Land Kraken (1).

A dynamic colony of lichens and fungi with inchoate sentience and dim awareness of the universe; animals that eat it regularly may become intelligent, capable of speech, loyal to the colony; intelligent beings can commune with the universe using colony as a conduit; the colony does rather like to be nourished with blood from time to time; can extrude puffy tentacles if needed. Are there several or does one cover thousands of square miles?


Tusked Moles.

Nocturnal/subterranean burrowing mammals; undermine and eat what falls in; killed instantly by sunlight or enough water; not very bright; enjoy moonbathing; at home in earth or deep snow; horrible screeching.


Psychic Eels.

Hefty freshwater eels; good eating; zap you with random psionic abilities as a defence (or enfeeble, paralyse, charm if you’re not using psionics); unintelligent. Squid Heads can’t use their powers while in or against those in eel waters.


Fire Cats.

Roam the taiga, gather at volcanic springs and lightning strikes; alarming blue faces and orange-tipped pale fur; can cough up a sputtering fireball. Actually a species of ape, but felidiform.


Greater Wood Troll (1).

Becoming more like a vast and ancient tree as it survives the centuries. Rarely talks anymore, because it’s so sad. Can pass without trace, despite its size and spread. It is an old friend of the lightning and the wind, and can call on them for aid.


Liver Eaters.

Stride with great padding footsteps, muffled by the carpet of needles or the snow. Sometimes towering, other times small enough to hide in your backpack. Bright-eyed, waxy-skinned, skeletal. Just want to eat the little bit of your liver that means you’ll waste away and die.



Brutal elementals; naked, hairless Dwarves of tree trunk and creeper; strong as giants; despise all non-plant life. Plant trees to extend the forests, watered with blood and fed with crushed bone.


As well as the Moors, one can find their way back to the Great Grim Gloomy Forest which interfaces with the Taiga at various points.



No comments:

Post a Comment