The Dark Sun bestiary conversion continues. Currently, I’m working through the MC12: The Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium – Terrors of the Desert. Specifically, I’m dividing the creatures up by the random encounter tables.
First, are the monsters of the verdant belts.
Athas is an arid world, but it is not entirely waterless. In various places, springs and underground streams bubble to the surface, forming small pools around which a verdant belt of vegetation grows. These are the creatures found in those regions.
Bog waders live in the bottom of muddy wallows waiting to prey on unsuspecting creatures who come to drink.
The small, misshapen creature could be mistaken for a dwarf at a distance. Closer inspection reveals the thousands of wrinkles of overlapping gray skin and thin, yellow and black bones that poke through the soft skin on all sides. A pair of dorsal ridges run down the back. Bog waders have small, flat heads. They have no nose; instead, they possess a closeable breathing hole. Bog waders have flaps (instead of ears) on each side of their head. These flaps cover the ear canal when they submerge. Gill ridges run vertically down their backs between their spine and dorsal ridges. The gill ridges are covered by patches of hair or cilia, which filters out the particulate matter in the mud allowing them to breathe in the water. They have bent legs designed for leaping and webbed feet and hands that end in sharp, three-fingered claws. A row of small teeth, designed for tearing, line their mouths.
Bog waders have no language of their own and speak no other common tongue. They communicate with each other through a series of guttural tones, but these convey only the simplest concepts concerning feeding and mating. Psionics or magic can be used to further communication, but the bog wader’s low intelligence makes a meaningful exchange of ideas unlikely. The bog wader’s world is its bog and its prey; it pays attention to little else.
Each bog wader lives in agony within its own watery pit. The bones that protrude from its skin cause them constant pain, which is one of the reasons the creature is so fierce. The skin of the creature needs almost constant moisture and will dry and crack quickly when exposed to direct sunlight. When moving about the flats, the creature constantly coats itself with fresh mud in order to keep its skin moist. During particularly dry spells, the bog wader’s hole may dry out. In these cases, the bog wader can burrow to the bottom of its drying hole and become dormant. While the sun bakes its home to hard clay around it, the bog wader remains barely alive beneath the earth, waiting patiently for new moisture. Once the bog becomes muddied again, the creature slowly regains its consciousness and mobility, a process that takes anywhere from one day to a week. Fresh watering holes may already have a near-dormant bog wader in them, one that won’t attack anyone for several days. A bog wader can remain dormant in the dried mud
for up to 20 years.
Female bog waders bellow to attract males during mating season, and the males are unable or unwilling to resist the call. Male bog waders commonly fight to the death for the right to sire offspring. Once a year the female gives birth to a single offspring or (rarely) twins. The male is charged with raising the offspring until it is able to take care of itself. Otherwise, the bog wader is a solitary creature.
Bog waders are a deadly source of water. Although they create holes where fresh water collects, it is a dangerous business to attempt to take advantage of the water stored there. Many creatures are drawn to the water, and the bog wader, for its own reasons, allows certain creatures to drink unmolested. They provide little else in the way of useable goods or commodities on Athas.
Some more intelligent creatures trap bog waders for their own purposes. Some slave tribes, for instance, capture bog waders and relocate them to man-made water holes around their villages or important fortifications. They supply the bog waders with living prey to keep them from moving on and help keep the bog comfortably moist for its deadly occupant. Bog waders are intelligent enough to know that they serve a defensive purpose for their captors, but are for the most part inclined to accept their hospitality.
Thri-kreen have been known to use dormant bog waders to foul the water supplies of their enemies. Using subtle psionics, they locate buried bog waders and then dig them up. As long as the creature is kept dry, it does not come out of its dormant state.
Several such creatures are then snuck into enemy ponds and watering holes. Within a week the thri-kreen can expect multiple casualties among their unsuspecting enemies.
Erdlands are a large variant of the erdlus and are commonly encountered in herds in the Athasian plains. Used as mounts or to pull caravans, erdland are a common sight along the trade routes through the deserts of Athas.
Erdlands, like their smaller cousins, are flightless, featherless birds which are covered with red to grey scales. Erdlands can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and often stand nearly 15 feet tall. The legs of an erdland are powerful and strong, sporting large four-clawed feet. Unlike erdlus, erdlands are not capable of fast speeds and are used more for their endurance than their speed. Aside from the difference in size and speed, erdlands very
closely resemble the smaller and quicker erdlus.
Erdlands live in the low-lying vegetation areas found in the tablelands of Athas. They often make their shelter of some of the larger bushes and trees that grow near the edge of the Ringing Mountains, where the tablelands reach the mountains’ base.
Erdlands gather in much smaller groups than erdlus, usually varying from 10 to 30 in number. Erdlands are omnivorous, eating both animals and vegetables, usually whichever is more readily available. Erdlands rarely hunt for food and so most often eat vegetation for survival, enjoying meat when another animal or creature is found dead. On occasion, erdlands will hunt; they are fairly competent when doing so. Erdland greatly enjoy eating esperweed, a flowering plant that causes an increase in the psionic powers of those who eat it (q.v.). Though they normally possess no psionic ability, when
they eat esperweed, erdlands gain the psionic abilities described above. This ability lasts only for a short time, just one turn, and thus, it is very rare that adventurers will encounter a psionic erdland.
Erdlands, like erdlus, produce young by laying eggs, the size of which can often be as large as 3 feet in diameter. Erdland eggs are somewhat less tasty than erdlu eggs but can provide food for as many as three adult human or demi-humans. Erdland eggs are incubated underground, in small wells dug by the egg bearer. During the day, the dirt and mud walls of these wells grow very moist and hot, due to the searing heat of the Athasian sun.
Egg-bearing erdlands will often dig three or four of these wells, all within an area approximately 30 feet in diameter. Whenever one of these egg wells is threatened by another creature (man or otherwise), the egg bearer will attack the threat viciously in order to protect its young.
Erdlands do not provide much in terms of usable material for such things as weapons or magical components. The one resource they do provide is food for some of the savage halfling tribes that inhabit the jungles of Athas. An average erdland can provide up to 700 pounds of meat.
These multi-armed, humanoid kin to giants are often hunted for combat in the gladiatorial arenas of Athas due to their strength, size, and special combat abilities
B’rohg are tall, slim, humanoid giants with four arms and two legs. They have burnt orange skin, the result of having spent their lives on the hot deserts of Athas. They stand 15-feet in height when fully mature, with sharp, angled features, a flat nose, and pointed ears located towards the backside of their skull. Some b’rohg are bald on top but do have hair (which they will grow to waist-length) growing from the back of their heads. B’rohg
have no facial hair. A b’rohg’s garb is simple and well-suited to his primitive lifestyle. Males and females alike wear loose fitting skins or breeches made from reptilian leather.
B’rohg communicate with one another through a series of primitive grunts and hand signals. Because of their low intelligence, it is impossible to teach a b’rohg contemporary speech. It is possible to learn the grunt and sign language of the b’rohg through much study; however, such communication tends to be limited to simple concepts. Psionic or magical communication is also somewhat limited due to their low intelligence contact is
still limited to fairly simple ideas.
B’rohg are a throw-back to simpler times. They are nomadic hunters and gatherers who continue to live within a primitive, stone-age culture primarily because of their low intelligence. A b’rohg child taken and raised in a human community is unable to comprehend anything but primitive concepts; his lack of intelligence makes him unable to excel. B’rohg live in small bands comprised of 1-4 family units called cliques. Family
units consist of one male, one or two females, and generally no more than four total offspring. Males are dominant within the family structure, but tasks within a band are accomplished by the most capable member regardless of gender. The strongest in the band are primarily hunters, while the older, weaker members and the children are gatherers and water bearers. B’rohg have yet to master fire, but are not afraid of it; in fact, they are often attracted to it if they see the distant glow. B’rohg are scavengers, and their clothing often testifies to this fact. When clothed, they combine animal skins with found or discarded scraps of clothing and armor.
B’rohg typically live to be 80 years of age but seldom do because of the harshness of their environment and a high mortality rate among their young. B’rohg do not understand the concept of death and tend to leave things that do not exhibit signs of life alone. An exception to this is seen in combat, where they may repeatedly strike a dead opponent just to make sure it does not arise later. B’rohg will eat the flesh of other races, but are not cannibalistic; they do not consume their own kind.
Neither suspicious nor superstitious, b’rohg are reactionary when magic is used in their presence. Depending on previous experiences with spellcasters, the creatures may be awed or angered. When encountering magic for the first time, their reaction tends to be one of curiosity (until the spellcaster’s intentmalevolent or benevolenthas been established).
Their nomadic lifestyle calls for periods of movement followed by periods of rest. While on the move, the adults carry the few belongings they have and their children in simple sleds made from skins or leathers stretched across a triangle of wooden poles. Each adult drags a single sled across the ground to the next temporary settlement. Once in an area fresh for further hunting and gathering, the group settles down, forming small hovels out of their sleds and additional skins. Where possible, the hovels use existing rocks and crevices to serve as walls or additional rooms, respectively. When under the direction of a dominant male leader, the group selects an easily defended position over any others.
B’rohg do not directly contribute to the social or economic well-being of Athas, as they neither create nor produce any raw materials or refined goods. They are, however, top
draws at gladiatorial arenas, although they seldom benefit from their victories. Some captive b’rohg are too stupid to attempt to escape, while others die in their mad flight from the sorcerer-kings’ cities. B’rohg are sometimes seduced into gladiatorial
slavery by being tempted with sweetmeats, fresh cold water, and a variety of simple yet enticing luxuries. However, this seduction is the exception and not the rule, as most b’rohg are sought out and overcome by sheer force of numbers before being taken into slavery. Few people have ever made lasting friends with a b’rohg. Due to their limited intelligence b’rohg seldom remember a friend from foe for any length of time.
B’rohg that are taken to the gladiatorial games of the city-states are never allowed to win their freedom. Despite their humanoid form, b’rohg are considered animals by their trainers and owners, suitable for nothing more than entertainment through savage combat. However, low intelligence does not equate to low cunning, and many b’rohg have escaped their bonds to live free again in the Athasian wilderness. However, once trained for so-called civilized combat, the b’rohg is no longer suited to his original lifestyle.
While in the arena, renegades learn a great deal about more sophisticated combat techniques. They learn the benefits and use of armor, something rarely practiced in the wild. Renegade b’rohg fashion their own armor when they reach the wilderness,
using animal bone, chitin, and wood as available. Also, a renegade b’rohg usually escapes with a fair weapon from the arena.
Renegade b’rohg tend to live solitary lives. In encounters with other, more primitive b’rohg, the renegade keeps his distance, ashamed of his original capture, but also ashamed by the simplistic lives of his kin. The only places where renegades find universal acceptance is among the slave tribes. Once again among the familiar trappings of gladiatorial companionship, but without the abuse of servitude, renegades make excellent warriors and laborers.
The id fiend is a psionic predator whose greatest weapon is its ability to draw images of its victims’ fears from their minds.
The id fiend is very much like a gila monster or large lizard in appearance. It has a large, thick, stocky body supported by four muscular legs. All of the id fiends legs end in four clawed digits, three pointing forward and one backward. The torso of the id fiend usually ranges from 3 to 4 feet in length, ending in a long, tapering tail which is often up to four feet long. The head and neck of the id fiend measure two feet long, with its jaws making up about one foot of that length. The id fiends skin has a tough leather-like texture, varying in color from light brown and tan, found on specimens encountered in the desert, to a dark olive green, found on specimens encountered in the forests and jungles.
Id fiends can be encountered in virtually any terrain on Athas. Some live in the forests and jungles near the Forest Ridge, while some make their homes on the flat Tablelands that surround the Sea of Silt.
Though active at all times of the day, id fiends are more commonly encountered at night than during daylight hours. These creatures have learned that their natural fear-inducing ability is much more effective at night, and thus prefer to stalk their prey
in the dark. Though id fiends do not have infravision, they are able to see adequately in natural darkness.
Id fiends mate yearly, and females bear their young in litters of a single offspring. A newborn id fiend is able to digest solid food at birth, and the mother will most often leave the youngling to fend for itself.
Dried id fiend blood is used in the creation of a potion concocted by psionic researchers; the potion allegedly increases the imbiber’s psionic abilities for brief periods of time.
Next: Fire and Water Drakes, Rock Cacti, Lirr, and Nikaal.
Art by Wizards of the Coast.