Friday, January 9, 2015

New Monster: Urhag

She came to me in a dream.  

I could tell by her voice that she was of regal bearing and intelligence, but at first I could not see her.  I was looking out over a darkend grey and cold plain.  In the far distance I saw mountains; mountains I know I had never beheld before with mortal eyes yet no less real.  In the sky above flew beasts, for that was the only world for them.  They appeared as mad paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, a mass of flying, winged semi-human creatures.  Their appearance was as women, save shamefully unclothed, though it was difficult to see this from the filth that covered them.  The smell was worse than any charnel house I could recall; the decay of death, the reek of excrement, and the sour odour of unwashed sweaty bodies.   Their hair was wild. Their teeth were long, yellowed and many were broken.  This is how I knew I was still in the dream. Such details would have escaped me given their distance. In truth, I wanted to be no closer to these hideous creatures.  Their eyes burned red like coals of hellfire.

I watched as they flew and they attacked and ate other beasts in sky.  They were aware of me and my companion, but made no move towards us.

"What are they?" I asked and I turned to meet my unseen companion.  To my shock she appeared as they did, save she was not a filthy degenerate creature, but a woman of regal bearing. She had the same clawed hands, the same large bat-like wings and most horribly the same eyes.

"They are Ur-hags." she had said.  "They are our sisters."

- From the Journal of Larina Nix

I have been rereading H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" a story that both fascinated me and frustrated me in my youth.  For my group of gaming friends and our extended group of their older brothers, it was always an unspoken, but a well-understood rule that it didn't really matter what Lovecraft story you began with, but your last one had to be "Kadath".  So I am rereading it for the first time since 1987.

It is just as phantasmagorical as I recalled. Reading it now is also a treat that I have better understanding of the mythos and the creatures mentioned throughout are now well known to me.
But one creature captured my attention that I had not seen before and forgot.  The Urhags.
That night I had a dream about Maleficent, so I knew I had something here.

I checked various games that cover Lovecraft-type monsters such as The Realms of Crawling ChaosAstonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea and various Call of Cthulhu books but only found one mention of them in H.P. Lovecraft's Dreamlands.   They are interesting, but I kinda liek what I came up with a little more.  These urhags are released from their Dreamlands origins and brought closer to Ur-Hags.

"High over its jagged rim huge ravens flapped and croaked, and vague whirrings in the unseen depths told of bats or urhags or less mentionable presences haunting the endless blackness."
- H.P. Lovecraft, Dream-Quest Of Unknown Kadath

Here is my take on the urhag.  In "Basic Era" format to use with The Witch.

The follow is considered Open under the terms of the Open Gaming License.
OGL Section 15: "Urhag" Copyright © 2015, Timothy S. Brannan


Degenerate  Noble 
Armor Class:                    3 [16] 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 5*+2 (25 hp) 8*+13 (50 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claw, 1 bite; stench   2 claw or weapon, spell
Damage: 1d4/1d4/1d6 1d4/1d4 or by weapon type
Special: Stench, Magic, see below      Magic, Harmed by iron, see below
Movement: 30' / 90' fly 30' / 90' fly
No. Appearing: 1 1
Save As: Witch 5 Witch 8
Morale: 7 9
Treasure Type: Special Special
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil) Chaotic (Evil)
XP: by system by system

Scholars debate the relationship between the races of hags. While many look to the vile and evil Night Hags as their progenitor, scholars who have pierced the veil between Reality and Dream claim that such a progenitor race is known as the urhags.

The Urhags are found in two basic varieties, the Degenerate and the far less common Noble.

The Degenerate Urhag appears to be a hideously ugly humanoid woman. She appears naked, but covered in filth, with long clawed fingers, wild hair and inhumanly long feet and toes. What is the most curious feature of the urhag are her large bat-like wings.  One is immediately reminded of a harpy; which scholars also claim are an offspring of this creature.  The urhag does not speak, but only screams and shrieks.  The urhag can attack with a claw/claw/bite routine which is their most typical attack.  They are also surrounded by a horrible stench. Characters within 10' of the Urhag must save vs. Poison (Constitution, Fortitude) or suffer a -2 on all attacks against the creature.  The urhag may also cast spells as a 3rd level witch.  Spells that attack and due damage are preferred over all others.
Urhags are immune to all cold-based effects and are immune to cold and cold based spells. Dengerate urhags are carnivorous and their preferred  source of meat is humanoid flesh.  They are able to enter the dreams of people sleeping in their territories; usually within 300 yards.  Through this special attack the urhag will Charm a sleeping male into breeding with them. Once complete the urhag will then wake thee male to kill and eat him.  They prefer to wake their victims because they enjoy hear the sounds of their screams.  Within 3 months the urhag will lay a leathery egg in which a juvenile urhag will emerge. The new urhag will not expect any care or succor from her mother; in fact the mother is just as likely to eat her offspring as she did her offspring's father.

The Noble urhag is a different creature, though no less evil.  Like the degenerate urhag, the noble appears to be a winged woman with long taloned hands and feet.  Noble urhags also have horns growing from their heads that often causes them to be mistaken for some sort succubus or other demonic creature.  While not demonic, the noble urhag is still quite evil.  While the degenerate urhag is hideous and covered in filth, the noble urhag is regal, attractive, and clothed in only the fines wares. Her features are sharp and possibly indicate a relationship to the fae that other, more common hags, share.   The noble urhag can be harmed by iron in the same fashion that fae are; iron weapons cause +2 damage and +1 to hit.
The noble urhags can cast spells as a 7th level witch.  She may also take the occult powers of a Malefic or Faerie tradition witch.

While the degenerate urhag is indiscriminate about her choice of mating partners, the noble urhag prefers only the finest quality human males.  They do not care for elves since elves do not dream in the same manner as do men.  Also noble urhags do not always eat the men the lay with.  Some prefering to return to the same male time and time again as instinct drives them to reproduce.

Unlike common hags urhagss of either sort are not tied to a particular locale or environment.  Degenerate urhags do prefer colder wastes and demon-haunted lands and the noble urhag prefers temperate forests there are no restrictions on either.
Unlike night hags, urhags are not interested in the transport of souls or the outer planes.
Urhags can, in theory form coveys as other hags do and maybe even with other  hags, but none have been observed doing so.

1 comment:

Dr. Theda said...

The ecology of the Night Hag (from an old issue of Dragon) ( and their kind) were something that we used to incorporate into my game "story-line"....
Great post good Sir....