Z … is for … ZORBO #A2ZChallenge

A Zorbo is a small, unaligned monstrosity native to Chult. These monsters are about three feet tall and resemble raccoons or koala bears Dungeons & Dragons depending on coloration and markings. In the game, they first appeared in first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the first set of Monster Cards (1982). The zorbo then appeared in the original Monster Manual II (1983).

A zorbo is a devious, meat-eating beast that enjoys humanoid flesh. A zorbo can temporarily absorb the natural properties of items in its surroundings, gaining protection as if it were covered by the hardness of wood, metal, or stone. A zorbo can also gain the protection and defensive bonuses of a protective item worn by an opponent that it strikes, such as armor, shield, or magic item; this item turns into dust.

If encountered, it is best to avoid a Zorbo altogether. Just pray that it is not hungry.

 

X … is for … XVART

 

xvart (pronounced “Zart”) – also known as svart and xivort – is a small fictional humanoid creature found in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game. Many gamers recognize the creature from the popular video game Baldur’s Gate, based on the Forgotten Realms setting. The Xvart was first introduced to D&D in 1978 in White Dwarf #9. They were based on beings appearing in a book called The Weirdstone of Brisingamon. 

Xvarts are cowardly and easily intimidated on their own so they usually work in large groups. They were generally hateful creatures. Their short, miserable lives led them to despise most creatures and take out their angst on anyone and anything they could; but they particularly enjoyed tormenting larger creatures, in particular, goliaths and half-orcs.

These vile little monsters worship RAXIVORT, a servant of the demon lord Grazzt. His symbol is a fiery blue hand. He was the Master of Slaves for Grazzt until one day he betrayed his master. He stole a powerful artifact known as the Infinity Spindle and created the Xvarts as imperfect duplicates of himself in an attempt confuse those tracking him. Raxivort’s realm, the Black Sewers, is in Pandesmos, one of the layers of Pandemonium.

Raxivort teaches that might makes right. If xvarts are not strong enough to prevail, the proper course of action is to retreat and return with reinforcements. He advises patience, and advocates any means—lying, cheating, theft, enslavement—to survive. With patience, one can still triumph in the end.

Xvarts are obsessed with stealing gold and other treasure from passersby in the hopes of winning the favor of Raxivort. Should the favor of Raxivort be won the demon god will appear and steal all of the Xvart’s treasure, granting it Warlock abilities in return. Such a Xvart becomes a Shaman of its tribe. Shamans of Raxivort wear special stilts that elevate them to a height of five feet. Over these, they wear long black robes and a mask of gold or gilded copper. The stilts are worn only on ceremonial occasions. Xvart shamans are tasked with ensuring that their tribe follows the teachings of Raxivort.

 

W … is for … WARDUKE #atozchallenge

Warduke is a character from the AD&D series of toys and one of my favorites. The following text comes from the AD&D accessory called “The Shady Dragon Inn.”

WARDUKE wears a suit of half-chain anda black, winged helmet. His shield bears the sign of a demon’s head. He was an old friend of STRONGHEART. They were both paladins, but now the two are enemies. Both were exposed to the Heartstone, and WARDUKE’s cruel nature was brought out while STRONGHEART’s just nature became stronger.

WARDUKE is a friend of SKYLLA’s and wears a demonic device like hers. These two plan to overthrow Kellek once STRONGHEART and his allies are beaten. WARDUKE captured an evil Nightmare for his mount, and it frightens many of his enemies. WARDUKE especially hates STRONGHEART, who he feels wastes his time protecting the weak and helpless.

“A true fighter,” WARDUKE feels, “makes himself rich and powerful by the strength of his sword arm. He takes what he can — if you would keep your possessions, kill those who seek to take them.” He calls his sword “Nightwind.”

 

V … is for … VECNA #atozchallenge

 

The fictional character Vecna (VEK-nah) has been named as one of the greatest villains in the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. In his time, he was the greatest living wizard, and with the assistance of the demon lord Orcus, he became a lich. He grew in power and arguably became the most powerful of liches. Although in time, his undead body began to wither and fade, he rose to godhood. 

Vecna is usually depicted as a powerful magician resembling a desiccated corpse missing his left hand and eye. A constant theme in the adventures in which the character appears is Vecna’s never-ending quest for power, ending, should he succeed, with Vecna as the only deity in existence.

Vecna became so foreboding as a god that his cultists rarely spoke his name. They would talk of him in whispers, usually referring to his as The Master of Secrets, The Whispered One, The Undying King, Master of the Spider Throne, or Lord of the Rotted Tower. Being a secretive cult, there are no real collections of Vecnan teachings. However, copies of the Book of Vile Darkness are highly prized by the cult for Vecna’s role in that work’s development. The “Scroll of Mauthereign” is a text which offers a twisted version of Vecna’s history and tells his followers that committing evil acts is holy and righteous. Additionally, Vecna cults consider “Ordinary Necromancy” and “The Book of Keeping” as holy texts.

He has few allies, and countless enemies. His greatest, and perhaps only true ally is the mysterious entity known as the Serpent. Within the mortal worlds, Osterneth, the Bronze Lich, as the mightiest servant of Vecna. Also, the legendary lich, Acererak, once served Vecna, but the current status of their relationship is unknown. Among Vecna’s staunchest foes are Kas, Iuz, Saint Cuthbert, the Lady of Pain, Pholtus, the Circle of Eight, and he is also opposed by the Old Faith and the Silent Ones.

 

Symbol of Vecna

U … is for …. UNDEAD #atozchallenge

 

In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, undead is a classification of monsters that can be encountered by player characters. Undead creatures are most often once-living creatures, which have been animated by spiritual or supernatural forces.

In this post, I discuss the undead in Chult.

RAS NSI (pronounced RAZ nuh-SEE) was one of the seven the Chosen of UbtaoOver a century ago, he raised an army of undead to conquer the holy city of Mezro. When he failed, the army was dispersed throughout the jungles of Chult. These creatures found the jungles to be a plentiful hunting ground. Indigenous tribes worked to kill the monsters, but undead have a natural way of multiplying with little effort. Many Chultans were bitten and turned into mindless zombies. Some of the cannibal tribes transformed into ghouls. The remnants of RAS NSI’s army spread throughout the jungles like a blight, until now they claim hundreds of miles of territory as their hunting grounds.

More recently, ACERERAK added to the undead with more horrible creatures, mainly to slay weak and foolish explorers getting too close to the city of Omu and the Tomb of Annihilation. As each soul perishes, ACERERAK grows stronger. Eventually, the lich will be able to take control of all the undead hordes of Chult, and then expand this rulership over all of Faerun.

S … is for … STRONGHEART #atozchallenge

 

 

STRONGHEART is a Paladin, a lawful, good fighter who aids any who need his help. His worst enemy is WARDUKE.

Years ago the two were friends, but the Heartstone brought out their strongest qualities. STRONGHEART, aided by PERALAY and RINGLERUN, escaped unharmed, but WARDUKE  became twisted and evil.

STRONGHEART’s horse, Destrier, is a nihrain horse, and has helped him in several adventures.

STRONGHEART’s sword Purlblade was given to him by some dwarves he helped.

Few folk argue with this 6’2″ giant clad in shining plate mail atop his great white stallion. Throughout the land his deeds have made his name stand for justice and right.

 

 

R … is for … RINGLERUN THE WIZARD #atozchallenge

 

RINGLERUN is a wizard who uses his knowledge of magic to defend the helpless, help the weak, and protect the innocent. His study of magic is focused on Law and Order. He always does his utmost to help mankind against the forces of Evil.

RINGLERUN has a full white beard and piercing eyes. He favors robes, and has a Staff of Power. Long ago, RINGLERUN and Kellek were adventuring and discovered the massive Heartstone that changed Kellek into an evil man, bringing out his hidden flaws, and purified RINGLERUN, making him wise and more just. Since that time, RINGLERUN and his friends have opposed Kellek and his friends. Although he knows Kellek plans to destroy him, RINGLERUN is not worried,as he knows that right will prevail. He is loved by the townsfolk of Ten Towns for his kind ways. They seek his protection against Kellek.

 

Q … is for … QUIPPER #atozchallenge

Quipper are a type of fish much like that of a piranha. They are usually found in tropical waters like those within the jungles of Chult. However, they are able to thrive in fresh water as well. They are small fish, averaging between eight and ten inches long. The largest normal Quipper recorded was measured at two feet. They are either silver or black in color, with a saw-edged belly and large, triangular-shaped teeth that close in a scissorbite.

 For sheer voraciousness, the Quipper has no equals. There are many tales of cattle unfortunate enough to enter Chultan waters being stripped to the bone in a few minutes by these creatures. Quipper attack anything, including humans, and they usually attack in a swarm called a shoal numbering between five and fifty fish.

Quippers are meat-eaters; their usual diet is fish, but they will eat any animal that enters their territory. They have no natural enemies. Their cutting teeth, like those of sharks, flay the flesh from their victim as they attack. They are capable of reproduction (which occurs year round) after only a few months of life, and their life span is about four years.

There are no common uses for Quippers, either as trade goods or magical components. Primitive tribes in Chult sometimes use Quipper teeth as a decoration. Quippers are occasionally sought after by evil wizards and lords, who use them to populate their moats and dungeon traps.

P … is for … PHIZ #atozchallenge

 

A Phiz is a mystical entity found exclusively in sylvan woods and faerie settings, or in the Feywild. They appear for the most part on trees within the wilderness, although they have been seen on old, large wooden doors, enchanted houses, bridges, drawbridges, and other old, large, wooden structures. It is a spirt that can move from place to place, appearing within wood, usually oak, ash, or thorn. It is very wise, and usually appears to provide individuals with information or knowledge.  A Phiz’s extensive knowledge of an area’s history and memories of anyone who has ever passed before its eyes. It is capable of remembering entire conversations that may have occurred throughout the span of its life. It is also prone to know volumes of lore and speak many languages that no human or elf can even hope to find nowadays, much less remember.

A Phiz is not disposed to give its sage-like knowledge to anyone because it does not wish to be haunted by every philosopher and sage in the realm. A Phiz is rarely senile despite its great age, although to fool some seekers it pretends to be. They are reclusive and often act old and weary or irritated with the intrusion of its privacy. Phiz do not like to be sought out, they prefer to seek.

A Phiz is not afraid of death and cannot be tricked or forced to reveal knowledge and information by threats or coercion, It would rather die by the axe than give information to those arrogant enough to threaten it. Phiz are disinterested in wealth and often laugh at those foolish enough to promise gold and riches. The only way to receive any information from a Phiz, other than its possible willingness to divulge it anyhow, is to offer it powerful magical items or rich faerie food — a very dangerous proposition either way.

O … is for … OTHELSTAN #atozchallenge

Othelstan worshiped Tiamat through the Cult of the Dragon and controlled the village of Parnast nestled in the Greypeak Mountains. His duty was to monitor all visitors and merchandise passing through the village. He collected any magical items that were passing through the village and its surrounding area to be passed on to the Cult. From time to time, Skyreach Castle would pass through the area and collect whatever magical items had been captured. Othelstan kept wyverns on hand for the purpose of flying to and from the floating castle.

Othelstan was defeated when a group of adventurers came to Parnast and liberated the village from the clutches of the Dragon Cult.