Posts Tagged ‘dreamland’


Dreamland RPG: Zoogs

As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently working on Dreamland, a roleplaying game based on HP Lovecraft and Lord Dunsany’s Dreamland stories (and much other stuff besides). Here’s a brief excerpt from the “Beasts” (or monsters) section, the description of zoogs.

For my studies in Zoogery, and all the creatures of Dreamland, I was inspired by Kenneth Hite’s monster descriptions in “Trail of Cthulhu” in which he leaves several options of how a creature *might* be, and leaves it for the DM to decide and surprise their players. These options are listed in the 1-10 list at the end of the description. I’ve also worked from the assumption that the zoogs described in “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” are not the *only* type of zoogs, but merely one example of an entire kingdom of creatures, as different as one fish is to another. Yet clearly all fish share some common traits (and, in Dreamland, a common language), and so it is with zoogs.

ZOOGS

Often spoken of in the same breath as fairies, zoogs are vaguely humanoid creatures which live in the wilderness. Three traits distinguish them from fairies: first, they are covered with hair or fur, and look and act much more animalistic, walking as often on four legs as on two. (Although different groups of zoogs vary greatly in appearance, and even in number of legs.) Secondly, they rarely speak or understand human languages. Thirdly, unlike fairies, they appear in the ancient lore of no waking-world culture; only a few dreamers and poets know of them. Even Dreamlanders prefer not to speak of them, because zoogs prize their secrecy above all.

Zoogs live in burrows or nests, either underground, between the walls of houses, or in the trunks of trees, giant fungus and similar growths. The shapes of their burrows are a shrunken, inverse reflection of fairies’ grand noble houses. Their intelligence is no less than that of fairies, but they do not wear clothes. They rarely use tools either, though different groups of zoogs have different crafts that they specialize in, such as ropemaking, jewel-cutting or winemaking.

Although some zoogs are curious about human culture, all zoogs hate to be seen by humans, except by those few allies who can speak their tongue. They have little trouble avoiding human eyes, or ambushing prey: all zoogs can sneak as if they had Stealth 1D6+2. (This is a minimum; some zoogs are even stealthier.) Friendly or indifferent zoogs simply run away when humans approach, leaving only footprints or other traces of their presence. Hostile, strong zoogs hide behind tree trunks, lampposts, walls and other large objects, like the Behinder of Appalachian folklore, reaching out to grab their prey with a long, furry paw. Hostile, weak zoogs hide in the roots of trees, underfoot, and in creeks and gutters until they can gather enough numbers to attack in an overwhelming wave. Zoogs never attack human settlements unless they are confident in their ability to leave no survivors, or to poke out the eyes (or more kindly, blindfold) all survivors before the zoogs are seen.

Zoogs greatly respect magic, secrets and the night. All Mystery has x2 the usual effect to perform any action involving zoogs (i.e. each Mystery Word counts as +2, instead of the usual +1). If they believe they are dealing with a great wizard, zoogs will usually defer to that person out of fear and respect.

Like fairies, zoogs cannot be hurt by nonmagical mortal weapons. They can be killed only by the claws and fangs of fellow Beasts, by elemental forces such as fire and lightning, or by magic weapons. Any other wounds are simply shrugged off, unable to find purchase on the zoog’s rubbery flesh and endless fur.

Zoogs’ statistics vary greatly by type, with the statistics below representing a Voog or another type of small, woodland zoog.

ZOOG: FGT 1D6-3 (immune to normal weapons), SPD 2+, INS 1+, STB 2+

HORDE OF ZOOGS: FGT 9+1D6 (immune to normal weapons), SPD 2+, INS 1+, STB 2+

ZOOG LORE:

1. Zoogs are the result of the Great Ones breeding with humans when in animal form (like Zeus taking the form of a swan). It is the Great Ones’ shameful curse that gives them their shyness.

2. Zoogs avoid human attention because they are at work on a long secret project, many kalpas in the making, which humanity would seek to stop if they knew.

3. Zoogs originated in fabled Mhor, the city of darkness at the farthest eastern edge of the world. Their god is Mhor, the Night itself.

4. Zoogs are the dream-forms of drug-induced hallucinations suffered by human beings; each drug experience is a zoog. They can make a dream-connection to any human who takes powerful barbiturates, opiates or hallucinogens.

5. Every time a human baby cries, a zoog is born.

6. Zoogs are the dream-forms of puppets and stuffed animals, which have sentience in Dreamland. Some say that they are actually the evolved form of these toys, and that velveteen rabbits dream of becoming zoogs. They avoid humans because, in our presence, they feel the oppressive burden of human play-fantasies and desires.

7. In the distant past, before humans were even humans, zoogs travelled to the waking world and dwelt alongside us. When we developed language and tools and our consciousness changed, we forgot the zoogs, and the zoogs still resent us for it.

8. Zoogs are literally made of congealed darkness. (Like ice, it has a different color in solid than in liquid form.) When a place is left in the dark for too long, or forgotten for too long, zoogs are born there, like mosquito larvae in a stagnant pool.

9. Zoogs are the underworld equivalent of fairies, living among the roots while fairies live in the grass and wind and trees. They are fairies’ rivals, and always plot to conquer them and usurp their place.

10. Zoogs are the dream-forms of mongooses and mustelids (weasels, badgers, etc.). When they enter the waking world, they take the appearance of these creatures.

SOME TYPES OF ZOOGS

1. Gnoles. Appearance unknown. Live in a dilapidated house in a certain forest, where they guard a treasure of enormous emeralds. Anyone who goes near their house is never seen again.

2. Mipts. A tiny hybrid of fairy and zoog, they hide in the deserts and feed upon bones left by other scavengers.

3. Gleers. Gigantic (30’ long) crawling zoogs with many legs, like a shag carpet with several people hiding under it. They creep along the ground, eating mushrooms and sleeping creatures.

4. Mupps. Furry creatures with wide, frog-like mouthes and round bulging eyes on top of their heads. Their fur is bright green, blue, red or purple. The curmudgeonly and solitary green ones live in dustbins and garbage heaps in human cities, while the voracious blue ones eat anything they can find, especially human baked goods.

5. Raths. Resemble green, furry pigs. They primarily eat sparrows and oysters.

6. Bandersnatches. These long-necked, strong-jawed, bad-tempered zoogs often attempt to eat solitary travelers.

7. Snarks. Shy even by zoog standards, Snarks are sometimes hunted by brave humans and served with greens. Unfortunately for hunters, Snarks are visually identical to the deadly Boojums, who have evolved the ultimate defensive mechanism against being seen: the power to cause those who behold them to softly and suddenly vanish away.

8. Psammeads. The most powerful zoogs, Psammeads can grant 3 wishes to a lucky human in the same manner as djinn. However, they hate to do this, and prefer to spend their time hiding in sand-pits. They are hairy monkey-like creatures with small fat bodies and eyes like a snail’s.

9. Voogs. Resemble a cross between a monkey, a mole and a platypus, with sharp biting teeth. They live in a certain wood and make wine from an enchanted tree said to have grown from a seed from the moon.

10. Toves. Resemble a cross between a badger, a lizard and a corkscrew. They make nests under sundials and live on cheese. If affronted, they take revenge by spreading rumors of sexual deviancy about their target.

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