Wednesday, September 14, 2016

MONSTROUS: The Beastmen Vs. The Beastfolk Part I


In Sublanarya, there are no orcs or goblins. At least, they aren't called that.

This was a decision I made to create a more unique feeling to the setting in a subtle way. This meant I needed to replace them with an equivalent horde-like threat. After all, people need a reason to be weary of going off the beaten path. So I turned to creating a monstrous breed that was a worthy threat and could fit into all manner of niches. Really it was a matter of adapting the roles of various classic monsters from ogres to lizardfolk. The most common humanoid threat to the every day folk are the "beastmen".

It all began in the east, in a region called the Hold. This region had long been home to a mix of feudal colonies, trade towns and many nomadic tribes. It is a cold, wild and desolate landscape that is considered the edge of civilization by most. It is a place for dark magic, for giants and for strange beasts. It was during the Age of Restoration, following the defeat of the giants, that the Hold's people came under the sway of demonic influence. Mass sacrifices in mass abattoirs, dark temples that cast shadow across the land, and a new threat. From these dark halls, came the monstrous horde, and it swept across the northern continent. The Hamuts and the Zafarians managed to stave off the horde but the other free peoples were overwhelmed. It would not be until the arrival of the Holy Imperium's Diamond Fleet that the beastmen's resolve was shattered and their numbers scattered. They are still a threat and many rangers spend their lives training against it.

There are several common varieties found throughout Sublanarya. Many are directly or indirectly based on classic monsters while some are blatantly classic monsters. They often ally with other bestial races like lizardfolk and kuo-toa since their share the same gods. Particularly dangerous and related are the lycanthropes and other shapeshifters.

The common varieties are less intelligent and less dangerous, but still pose a threat to the average citizen, especially as they gather in numbers. The elite beastmen are usually more organized and dangerous. They usually have larger goals and interests than just gathering food and entertaining themselves. They all worship demons, they all eat manflesh and they all seek to destroy the peace & happiness of the civilized races. They are a challenge to civilization and a corruption of nature.
If you see one hob, there are probably more mucking about just out of sight. Small of stature, with deformed with little bodies, with oily red skin, cruel beady eyes, a pair of antlers, and long rabbit-like ears, hobs are the most common type of beastman. Not very clever or brave, they rely on their numbers to overcome their prey. They are surprisingly fast, vicious and just as cruel as their larger kin. So do not underestimate these ankle-biters.

The soldier breed of beastmen are the mobs: pig-like men with tusks, grey, blue, red or green skin, and just smart enough to usually be the "brains" of any outfit of lowly beastmen. They are the most organized breed of beastmen, using armor, weapons, training, etc. and believe in a chain of command-- even if that chain of command is spiked and the one holding it is the biggest and cruelest among them.

Stalkers are the wildest of the beastmen-- quick to anger, quick to violence. They are the brutish enforces of any gang of beasmmen. Despite their patience, they are often the stealthiest of their kin and, with their predatory animal-like features, often having cat or bear like snouts, are used as scouts and hunters by lowly beastmen groups. While they are willing to work with a group of their kin, to a hungry stalkers, anything is prey.

Monstrous in stature and appetite, orgs are the hardest beastmen for their kin to work with, as the large, ape-like monsters are invaluable for their strength but are so dumb as to be a liability if not kept in check. Most orgs only work with another group of beastmen so long as food keeps coming and, the moment the feeding stops, have been known to wander off to their own devices.

Butchers on the battlefield, these beastmen are savage fighters who take pleasure in annihilating their opponents with excessive force and eating the mangled bodies of their enemies even as they continue to fight. With a bovine or hircine head full of razor sharp teeth, this monsters relish combat and brutality. Their monstrous strength and hunger rivals that of orgs but, unlike orgs, butchers are cunning enemies that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Even beastmen need a cavalry and their cavalry is devastating: the malevolent counterpart to centaurs of Sublanarya have the head of a horse or stag, atop a human-like torse and that atop the body of a horse or stag. Tramplers are notorious show-offs who enjoy toying with their opponents with ranged and trampling tactics or to even challenge their enemies to one-sides duels.

Gnolls are believed to be the oldest breed of beastmen and make up the leadership of beastmen hordes. This is aided by their dabbling in magic and religious power, worshiping Kalibos and using demonic rituals, to empower themselves and their allies Gnolls resemble hyenas or wild dogs not only in appearance but action. They are cackling beasts that smell of carrion, take revel in the hunt and enjoy torturing their prey.

Luckily, most large parties of gnolls are not found outside of the Hold.

Lycanthropes & Other Shapeshifters

The most mysterious and dangerous group of beastmen share the moon curse. They can shift between beast and human form, disguising themselves, until they make their attack. They add to their numbers through infecting weakened humans. They often serve as scouts and can shift into a variety of mammalian monstrous forms from wererats to wereboars to werewolves, etc.

Speaking of numbers, where do most beastmen come from? How do they breed such variety but are one species?

Demonic hags serve as the brood mothers for the beastmen race, large, obese, and powerful in the dark arts, they are rarely seen as they often have a lair far removed and very much protected by their offspring. They serve as evil priestesses to a variety of evil gods and consort with powerful demonlords to create their broods. If no amount of fighting seems to eradicate a beastmen population, it is likely that a beasthag has taken residence nearby and must be slain to fully exterminate the threat.

Beastmen are a threat. They are barbaric, cruel and hunt humans for subsistence, sport, and darker purposes. Yet, with diligence and courage, they can be easily routed by military hunting forces of men and elves. Still, the larger danger is that these rabble could be organized into armies by enemies of the good peoples of Sublanarya.

Beastmen are the most hated and feared race in Sublanarya. They are the stuff of nightmares and the reason the common folk hesitate to freely travel along all but the main roads. Furthermore, this fear has led to many misunderstandings and discrimination. Specifically, there are several races of animal people found throughout Sublanarya, that have no relationship to these monsters and, furthermore, actively seek to destroy them as not only a threat to their own civilizations but an insult to nature itself.

These races are collectively called the "beastfolk". To be continued in Part II The Beastfolk.

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