Saturday, October 25, 2014

Monstrous Humanoids in the Once-Green and Pleasant Land

I had originally intended for every monster encountered in the Once-Green and Pleasant Land to be unique, and randomly generated; a serpentine goat with a dozen eyes and steam rising off its skin here, a rippling manta-ray shaped mass of scales and fangs there.  But that makes a sandbox exhausting to stock, I'm finding, and as such, I began to reconsider "breeds" of monsters.  And you know what? I found I kind of liked the idea of bringing things like orcs, goblins and trolls back into the setting.  By presenting a baseline of monstrosity, I think it will make the strange, one-off horrors that much more alien and monstrous.

But I don't want these to just be alternate species of hominid that are maybe just a little greener in complexion.  Oh no.  I wanna horror them up a bit.  Jack, over at Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque, did something similar a couple years back with a series on Demi-Humans in the World Between, and I'm trying hard not to simply ape him with these.

In the Once-Green and Pleasant Land, sometimes men do not stay men.  Sometimes, they are corrupted by the negative energies permeating the Once-Green and Pleasant Land, emanating from the vast sinkholes that erupted during the Cataclysm.  Sometimes, they are corrupted by their own inner foulness.  Either way, they cease to be men and become something far worse.

Orcs have relieved themselves of the pain of being men by making beasts of themselves.  Having renounced faith and given in to blaming God for the Cataclysm, they've given into cruelty, to hate, to rage, and have made violence their only credo; all vestiges of human civilization have been shed.  Their bodies reflect this beastly nature; some have goat horns, others boar tusks, still others paws like a bear's.  Sometimes entire bandit camps undergo metamorphosis simultaneously, becoming a gang of orcs overnight.  Many brigand groups includes orcs among their number, simply accepting that their former human comrades are now red-eyed howling savages.

An Ogre
Men who, in the face of the severe food shortages following the Cataclysm, succumb to hunger and commit cannibalism become Ogres.  Their bodies become stretched, drawn and emaciated, while their heads swell and their mouths become huge, insatiable maws.  While particularly drawn to the taste of human flesh, Ogres will eat anything from rotting garbage to swamp moss, and often will continue to eat until they're physically sick, vomiting to make room for more food.

Trolls, with their enormous, grasping hands and tenacious grip on life itself, were once men whose avarice knew no bounds; greedy barons who feasted while their subjects starved, priests who demanded greater tithes then their parishes could support - anyone who hurt or killed others in the pursuit of possession for possession's sake.

Goblins were once men who cringed and bent the knee to Chaos out of fear, rather than devotion.  For their cowardly toadying, these men are reshaped into skulking, moon-eyed sycophants, easily-cowed creatures whose nature demands they serve the strongest presence available.  As such, goblins are almost always found accompanying an orcish leader, an Ogre, Troll, or some form of demon.

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