Monday, July 16, 2012

Nag Teeth

"Instances of peculiar intelligence in the demeanor of a noble and high-spirited horse are not to be supposed capable of exciting unreasonable attention, but there were certain circumstances which intruded themselves per force upon the most skeptical and phlegmatic; and it is said there were times when the animal caused the gaping crowd who stood around to recoil in horror from the deep and impressive meaning of his terrible stamp..." *

Nag Teeth (Lesser Clatterers)

No. Enc.: 3d4
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 3'
Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 1 (Turn as 4 HD)
Attacks: 1 per tooth
Damage: 1 hit point per tooth biting
Save: F3
Morale: 11

SpecialAssume Gaseous Form(either smoke or swirling sparks) once per night. Ignite Small Fire once a night (cantrip-level effect). Immune to fire.

A loose pile of grisly horse's teeth, each one looks as though it was only recently ripped from the jaws of a dead horse with pliers. They still bleed as they slowly, painfully tumble, roll and clatter along the ground or across a floor in search of their next victim. These teeth are the vengeful remains of a horse eaten during the Winter. Any fool knows never to leave livestock or horseflesh behind in that accursed place once Fall sets in, but there are those who cannot, will not, or just plain do not bother to tend to their animals before the inevitable happens and the Butcher Boys show up to collect questionable meat, by force if necessary.

Once, long ago, Nag Teeth were one of those minor apparitions or phantasms that plagued the upper classes who considered them one more inconvenience incurred in the course of upholding their claims, titles, and position within Wermspittle. But those times are long past. For whatever reason Nag Teeth indiscriminately attack anyone they meet. It is as if the damned things have been driven mad with a deeply unholy hunger all their own.

Nag Teeth (Greater Night Biters)

No. Enc.: 3d4
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 180'
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 2d6 (as a group of biting teeth)
Damage: 1d4 per tooth biting
Save: F7
Morale: 11

Special: Radiates Fear in a 10' radius. Trample attack once per night. (+4 to hit, 4d8 damage). Assume Gaseous Form (either smoke or swirling cinders) once per night. Ignite Fire up to 3 times a night. Immune to fire.

This being Wermspittle, things can always get worse. When Nag Teeth taste blood and take their vengeance on a number of victims (1d6), they undergo a disturbing transformation into even more hateful, vengeful and destructive things that prowl the darkened stables, abandoned lofts and stalls of the Burned Over District and other such places looking for victims to devour. Wherever they pause, whether to consume the flesh of their victims or to maliciously cause mischief, the Nag's Teeth tend to ignite small fires that can quickly grow into out of control blazes.

What makes these 'Night Biters' all the more frightening when first encountered is their poltergeist-like ability to trample an opponent as though the macabre teeth were still part of a vigorous war horse. This Trample ability has caused many an otherwise dour and doughty fighter to break and run off into the night screaming like a little girl. (DM discretion whether or not to add-on some sort of additional Fear and/or Sanity Effect.)

It is said that the Fantomists know how to make use of these haunted teeth to necromantically 'grow' a type of undead steed. But that is probably just some old Midwives' tale. Speaking of such grim stories, The Barons of Mareidtholm were recorded as riding into battle accompanied by a swirling cloud of chattering Mare's Teeth that they personally collected from the horses of their fallen enemies, but this may be another case of folkloric exaggeration and crafty myth-making in order to enhance the Barons' already atrocious and quite formidable reputations.

* The opening quote is from Metzengerstein by Poe. That short story (Poe's first published tale) and The Phantom Rickshaw by Richard Kipling, which was inspired at least partly by Poe's story, gave impetus and inspiration to the creation of the Nag's Teeth. Plus a touch of the Mara/Cauchemare/Nightmare folklore because it seemed like the horrific thing to do at the time. It was also hard to resist playing off of haunted/accursed teeth, seeing as how Poe used teeth as a symbol for mortality time and again in his stories. But that was just a nifty bonus. And yes, there is more proto-Germanic nightmarish horsing around on the way...and we really ought to place a few broken-down rickshaws in Wermspittle...


  1. As I was reading this, I was imagining a clattering swirls of horses' teeth as a kind of "tooth devil", and then you went right ahead and put that in the description of the toothed swirls used by the Barons of Mareidtholm!

    I imagine their are similar haunts for abandoned dogs or dogs that are eaten by their owners in the Winter.

    Speaking of Germans and teeth, I read once that Kafka was deathly unsettled by his girlfriend's jumbled set of teeth.

  2. @John Till: The Fantomists and others know spells to cajole and coerce disparate groups of Nag Teeth...and other, similar Geist-forms to merge and accumulate into truly horrific monstrosities, but thankfully those sorts of things are rare, or at least difficult/expensive to put into effect.

    It is unlikely that any dogs get eaten in the Winter, unless they were prepared and preserved ahead of time...partly from superstition, partly because of prowling things that take a violent exception to such a practice. There are packs of wild/feral dogs that prowl certain sections and alleys, but they are very territorial and restricted in their scope of operations by the Street Wolves and other such beasts. So, there are dogs that feed on people all year round, especially among the Shanty Camps, the Refugees, the Dregs and Feral Children.

    There are also various Haints and the like (Including the afore-mentioned street Wolves) that can avoid the usual forms of detection, but that dogs can sense, so those folks who breed dogs to hunt these things are very loathe to let anything happen to their dogs.

    Quite a few of the feral dog packs are actually migratory. The Nomads who come to make trade in the Spring and Summer months also are very fond of dogs and there's an old Midwive's tale that if a nomad catches a whiff of dog on another trader's breath, they'll as like cut their throat as trade with them. Of course, that's probably more superstitious drivel...probably...

    The Canids and Howlers should have been posted already. We're going to have to go back over the queue again...

    Kafka was pretty unsettled over a lot of stuff, not just his girlfriend's snaggly-teeth...but yeah, that is another one of those little threads we're weaving through all these monsters.

  3. Glad dogs aren't on the menu. I wondered about them when I saw references to dog packs in the encounter tables. Once again, your comments open up huge new fascinating details about Wermspittle. And amazingly, my iPad's spell checker just offered to spell out WermspIttle when I typed in "Werm"

  4. Oh, dog-meat can be found on a few menus, but only in very discrete, disreputable cafes that cater to the profoundly non-superstitious or those with peculiar religious convictions. They just don't dare advertise that aspect of their bill of fare, or else incur a lot of trouble...


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