Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Poll Result: Which Monster Should Attack?

Hey Greyhawkers! Today I'm going over the results of my last poll Which Monster Should Attack Town? This was an easy-going fun poll, not much to do with Greyhawk per se, but we can analyze where these monstrous threats are coming from if you as a DM want to shake up your campaign. Let's go!

Coming in tied for first (30%) is the two most popular mega-monsters, the Red Dragon and the king of D&D monsters the Tarrasque. Red dragons are of course the evil, fire breathing variety and are generally the strongest in most fantasy literature and art. The tarrasque is a unique creature which like a dragon, slumbers and comes out to feed and destroy towns before going dormant again. The only difference between the two is red dragons want your treasure, the tarrasque just wants to kill anything that moves.

Where to use a Red Dragon or Tarrasque? This is quandary because the tarrasque can be buried virtually anywhere, ready to pop out. I'd suggest placing the monster in the already dangerous hills of the Pomarj or perhaps somewhere isolated but still inhabited like Perrenland's highlands. However, if you really want to maximize your threat to civilization put the tarrasque in the Cairn Hills not far from Greyhawk itself. The tarrasque is an indiscriminate killer that can only be stopped with high-level combat or magic. It's appearance could be instigated by evil forces, but then again the Big-T is a force of nature itself so fighting him could be a situation where good and evil must band together. Who needs the Doomgrinder?*

As for red dragons, there is plenty in Greyhawk canon to draw from if you want a Tolkienesque Smaug-level threat. The main bad dragon is Brazzemal the Bright who can be found either in the Hellfurnaces or in the Rift Canyon depending on your source, he is first seen in Hall of the Fire Giant King. There is Farcluun a rather intelligent yet powerful red found in the dungeons of the Greyhawk Ruins. Finally, there is another epic red in the Crystalmist Mountains named Sulphacitezus from the book Treasures of Greyhawk. All of these dragons can make a cunning and ultra-deadly foe for PCs and a terror on any towns nearby.

Coming in second with 16% of the vote is the surprising Roc! For those who don't know, a roc is a gigantic bird of prey known from mythology often depicted carrying off an elephant in its talons. It is featured in the popular fiction The Arabian Nights encountered by Sinbad the sailor. In Greyhawk fiction I believe there is a roc on the cover of Dungeonland. So yes, this is Rodan-level death from above for monster buffs out there.

Where to use a Roc? This one could go many directions too. Given the roc's mythological background it would fit best in the warm Baklunish culture preying on ships sailing the Dramidj Ocean or perhaps picking off caravans crossing the Dry Steppes. In the east Flanaess, a roc can easily roost in any mountainous areas near the Azure Sea or Solnor Ocean. It's a top of the food chain monster, probably only threatened by dragons and mankind. In the most extreme case, a roc could threaten your local villagers used as a flying mount for a cloud giant. That's double trouble!

Next in line with 10% of the vote is the Purple Worm! This is just what you think it is, a colossal sized worm that burrows and swallows whole everything in its way including unwitting heroes. The purple worm is an iconic D&D creature featured in the Monster Manuals from way back, it is often seen in the Underdark and not on the surface however. This doesn't mean a DM can't lure one to the surface though. A confused hungry purple worm on above ground is just as deadly.

Where to use a Purple Worm? The first place I can find them on the World of Greyhawk encounter charts is the Sea of Dust. This immediately brings up images of Dune's sand worms. That begs the question, can purple worms be domesticated as a mount by some intelligent species to invade outside the desert? You're welcome evil-DMs. Ideally however, they can be found near any dungeon ruin, ready to creep up looking for new sources of food.

Speaking of giant things, coming in with 8% of the vote is a Titan. Again, this is a mythological giant, even greater in size and strength than even storm giants. A titan is supposed to be a near god-like being and are typically represented in D&D as being in Greek-garb and have special abilities according to their sphere of interest. While not generally evil, an enraged titan could be trouble for a town either directly or collaterally.

Where to use a Titan? The titans are not prevalent in Greyhawk on their own per se, so they can appear virtually anywhere. They could be the divine agents of a deity like Pelor however showing up to exact vengeance on a wicked town. Titans as such will rarely come into conflict with PCs, but they could be nice to break out if players start to get on an ego-power trip at higher levels. Now speaking of titans...

Lastly and most surprisingly at 6% last is the Kraken! No not the monster from Clash of the Titans, I'm talking the one we all know about, the colossal intelligent squid kind. With its size and giant reaching tentacles, the kraken would be the most awful terrible and epic creature to unleash on a small harbor town. If the tarrasque rules land, then surely the kraken (is that singular or plural?) rules the deep oceans.

Where to use a Kraken? In canon Greyhawk has/had a kraken in Grendep Bay near the barbarian lands. The town of Krakenheim is derived from this tale. If there is giant squids in the cold north, then surely there some in the vast deeps of the Azure Sea ready to be called up by evil such as sahuagin to wreck havoc on cities like Irongate or Gradsul. Or maybe your PCs are into high seas exploration off the map into the tropics? Well then there is definitely some krakens out there, ready to haul down a ship or terrorize the local natives.

*No, really, do not play Doomgrinder what ever you do! It will wreck your campaign and is in general a huge waste of time.

Whatever your choice of monster, remember the long lasting effect they can have on your campaign could be significant. Players, beware and behave!


Mystic Scholar said...

I'm never really "enthused" to use the Tarrasque. In truth, the only option ever available is to run.

Rod Thompson said...

Don't forget, Tegel Manor has a purple worm under the bed.