madlands

To Eat, to Consume, to Feast

Ute Nagat was a man not often defied. As one with the stature of a giant he received the obedience of those cowed by physique alone. As a member of the Society of Yern Hunters he received the submission of those willing to bow to authority and experience. As a member of the Nagat line he was served by those respecting his long and storied lineage. Such was his right.

There was no doubt in Ute’s mind that he would not be defied by the world either, for he knew he would be the first to find Yern, a city lost to the writhing jungle of the Madlands centuries before. The self-assurance that made his failure to date all the more galling. After his last expedition returned with vast treasures but no new knowledge of the lost city, he had immersed himself in the archives of his order. He searched through vault after vault of painstakingly collected knowledge about the vast swathe of the world hostile to human life itself. In endless stacks of shipping manifests, historical accounts of petty deeds, and overwhelming numbers of death receipts, he eventually found a single, solitary, solid lead to follow. In this, as in all things, Ute had no plans on being defied.

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Cavern Crawler

We may have finished with the cave monsters but we’re not heading for the surface yet.  Today’s entry is a fun new monster from the Tome of Horrors 4, the cavern crawler! Somewhere between a centipede and a giant lizard, the cavern crawler’s unique look is part of the charm to me. They’re weird without being (for this hobby, at any rate) so out there that they don’t fit into the game.  A female-dominated society with one breeder and a number of males who act as hunters is an unusual trait for reptiles, too. The toxic confusion bite rounds off the cavern crawler’s abilities very nicely although some of you might prefer it as a curse depending on what you’re looking for.  Overall, this a fun monster that’s great for underground encounters (especially if you’re more Weird World Below than Classic Underdark with things).  They’re readily adaptable to places like alien jungles or strange, mutated madlands environments without any trouble at all, too.

When an expedition was launched into the caverns uncovered beneath Taragor, few expected to find anything of great significance. Beauty and wonder, certainly, but sages were quite certain that the underground could not be the home to strange gods and weird beasts that were whispered of among the common folk.  Quite, quite certain.  And quite, quite wrong.  The cavern crawlers of Taragor have become famous in the Queen’s Menagerie despite their bite having driven three good men into a permanent stupor, including her most prominent rival for the throne.  Further discoveries no doubt await, possibly to the fabled City Below, but finding a way past the cavern crawlers has been challenging.

While exploring the long abandoned reaches of a space station built into a mining asteroid, the adventurous crew of a voidjammer discovers the reason the place was abandoned – an infestation of cavern crawlers. Native to the dark side of a world tidally locked to a cool, dim red star, the crawlers’ ability to see in the dark, many clinging legs, and hardiness in the face of temperature swings has left them well adapted to life in the sealed, pressurized tunnels.  They hunt the morlocks who are all that remain of the station’s former owners, who in turn feed on the wild fungi and grav-adapted plants that sustain the station’s atmosphere with the aid of ancient magics.

Seeking to create a guardian beast more pliable than their usual fleshwarped servants, one of the drow houses of Kalkiranin turned their alchemical and surgical techniques on some of the city’s famed riding lizards. Rather than a sentient, pained creature, the process yielded slightly smaller, stronger lizards with dozens of legs. Though the dark masters who created them have little trouble controlling the beasts thanks to enchantments laid upon them during their creation, others frequently have much more difficulty. Cavern crawlers’ cursed bites inflict a virulent, confusing haze of hallucinogens and drow magic on their victims, though a few depraved addicts deliberately seek out the “enlightenment” of utter confusion.

- Tome of Horrors 4 36

The image above is from the Tome of Horrors 4.  I don’t know who the artist is as the piece is unsigned.