Our first entry into the series is our goblin stand-in, The Varmint. This nasty little beast was inspired by the following passage from C.L. Moore's "Black God's Kiss":
"[A]t her feet a ravening circle of small, slavering, blind things leaped with clashing teeth. They were obscene and hard to distinguish against the darkness of the hillside, and the noise they made was revolting. Her sword swung up of itself, almost, and slashed furiously at the little dark horrors leaping up around her legs.They died squashily, splattering her bare thighs with unpleasantness, and after a few had gone silent under the blade the rest fled into the dark with quick, frightened pantings, their feet making a queer splashing noise on the stones."
|Disposition of the Varmint.|
|Face of a Varmint.|
|Limbs of the Varmint.|
Being nearly universally despised, with almost every sentient creature exterminating them on sight, the Varmint is a cautious and crafty beast during the first phase of their life cycle, either as solitary creatures or as part of a small enclave. More often than not they will burrow in a shunned locale in close proximity to a settlement, despite the potential dangers, for they love nothing but the cries of children and the gurgling screams of their parents as they are dragged into the crypt, warren, or sewer they inhabit.
Once settled, the Varmints will begin stalking outlying homesteads or crumbling slums, having an almost preternatural ability to identify the wretched, the desperate, the outcasts, and the loners. They prey on those for whom no tears will be shed and few inquiries will be made about their untimely demise. After a victim is selected, the Varmints will stalk the poor sod, learning his or her habits and routine. It is at this point that their ingenuity at sabotage and trap-making comes to the fore, as they will carefully arrange an "accident" to befall the victim, preferring to main or disfigure their prey, both to prevent flight and to further repulse those around them.
|Fur of the Varmint.|
|That Which Remains|
|Inspiration for the Varmint.|
Despite the murderous intentions of these small bands, however, they would hardly be a threat to civilization as a whole if it were not for their unusual relationship to that essence of life itself, clean water. While the Varmint is perfectly capable of slurping down brackish or polluted liquids, pure spring water is the bane of such creatures, acting in the same manner as the most potent of acids, causing them to dissolve into boils and black sludge. A danger lies inherent in such a method of dispatching the creatures, however, as the boils will soon thereafter pop, discharging a noxious gas. If inhaled, the gas will cause temporarily hallucinations, causing those that inhaled the fumes to hear a raucous cacophony of Varmint screams and gibberings, driving them into a temporary state of violent madness. Moreover, if confronted with a source of natural spring water, Varmints will, lemming-like, irrationally rush towards the offending pool and leap into it straight away. This befouls the spring with the grotesque black sludge from which they are constituted for generations to come. As water is such a precious resource in many parts of Krül, this can lead to the depopulation of entire towns as they are forced to migrate to a new source of clean water.
|A spring destroyed by Varmints.|
Finally, the greatest threat posed by Varmints is not their destruction of the water supply (although that is terrifying enough), but rather when their population reaches a certain critical mass. None are certain exactly when the tipping point is, but it is estimated to be between fifty and two hundred. Once their communities reach this point, they gain an extraordinary boldness, gathering in an open area beneath the moonlight to unleash a mad series of screams and howls, piling atop one another in ritualistic fashion, blindly biting, scratching, and copulating with one another in a gigantic orgy of violence. As a single mass they then go forth, tearing across the land in a murderous rampage that descends on every living thing it spies upon. This twisting, crying tower of bodies will only stop briefly to rest and spawn before setting out once more, growing ever greater in size until it is put down, and leaving only devastation in its wake.
|Another (obvious) inspiration for the Varmint.|
* Mechanically similar in strength to a D&D goblin.
* Can use weapons, build traps and sabotage devices to create "accidents".
* Will attempt to cripple/disable foes instead of killing them outright.
* Cannot speak except when using the tongue of a child, tongue will rot in 1d4+3 days.
* No women and children, new spawn made from boiling fecal matter.
* Treat clean water as acid. If destroyed through such a method, boils will pop in 1d3 rounds (10-30 seconds), requiring everyone within a 10' radius to make the equivalent of a savings throw or go violently insane for 1d6 minutes, attempting to kill everything in sight.
* When the Varmint population reaches a certain number (i.e. Referee fiat), they combine into a huge rolling ball / weirdly tilting tower that should be treated as a much tougher creature with a swallow ability and a hefty hit point total.