Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Grotesk: Zaalu

Modified Version of
Drie monsters, by Anonymous, Arent van Bolten, Pierre Firens, c. 1604 - c. 1616.

No. Enc.: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 8[11] (as Leather)
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d4 or by weapon
Save: F2
Morale: 9 [Improves by 1 each time they roll a natural 20 to hit.]

One of the more commonly encountered forms of Grotesks, the Zaalu are typically covered from hoof to head in light gray, white or yellow-white hair and never willingly wear clothing, preferring to charge into battle naked. They possess a pair of stunted wings that form a protective mantle about their shoulders. Despite the wings they are flightless. Sure-footed and excellent climbers, they cannot swim and generally avoid bodies of water. They are often mistakenly categorized as sexless, but this is not exactly correct; each individual is an egg-layer and they can produce 1d4 eggs every three months with or without the assistance of any other Zaalu. They do not sell their eggs to non-Zaalu, but have been known to cook and eat their own eggs while engaged in long-term guard duty or military service.

Zaalu prefer to wield short-spears that have spiked-hafts just behind the diamond-shaped tip that can be used as long-handled maces. They also carry short swords or daggers as secondary weapons and tend to rely on slings as their preferred missile-weapon as their hands tend to be too small for anything other than a light hunting bow or child's prodd.

Zaalu claim to be descended from ancestors who were abandoned, lost or trapped in the Low-Lands and while most do try to see their deformities as a mark of distinction and pride, as they have been taught by their elders, there has always been a lingering sense of resentment among the Zaalu for those who were able to leave the Low-Lands and whose ancestors escaped the ravages of the plagues, poxes and pestilences that have so twisted and changed them into what they have become...which is still a matter of strenuous debate among scholars, surgeons and other authorities.

Source of Inspiration: Drie Monsters, a print from the 1600s. The Zaalu and numerous other varieties of Grotesk-kin can be found all over the Low-Lands outside Wermspittle thanks to the lingering effects of ancient weapons that still pollute the soil, water and air with strange teratological compounds... 


  1. Cool use of art work as a source of inspiration.

    1. Thanks, this critter has been sitting in the queue for a long time...nice to finally get posted. There's a lot of great stuff in the Public Domain.

    2. It would be interesting to know what the original creator might think as well. I doubt many people can accurately imagine how their work might be used so far into the future, but I'd imagine a lot of creators would be intrigued, and maybe glad to see they hadn't been forgotten as well. You've done a lot to help keep past creators in the spotlight, and maybe brought some back into it for the specific crowd of us following, which is a bonus, and it means even more depth, extending even further back into the real world.

    3. Yes it would be interesting to know what they might have thought of my re-interpretation. It would be even better to actually collaborate with someone like Man Ray or say Piranesi...but this is as close to that as we can get, though I have been working on some deliberately un-finished/incomplete pieces that I intend to leave behind for others to work with as they will.

    4. That's a very fine idea. On the other hand, the longer we have to wait for the chance, the better.


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