Monday, February 22, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Aglæca

Here is a monster that has been rummaging around in the back of my mind for a while now. I have renewed my search for this creature thanks to getting all caught up on the new "Nancy Drew" series which has a solid supernatural vibe to it. 

The word seems to come from Beowulf, but there is a lot of debate over what it means exactly

We can go to the root word, āglāc, which can mean distress, torment, or misery.  It later derived the Middle-English word egleche meaning warlike or brave.  The Dictionary of Old English describes it as an awesome opponent, a ferocious fighter.  There is so much confusion and speculation on this word there is even a recent Master's Thesis on it, Robinson, Danielle, "The Schizophrenic Warrior: Exploring Aglæca in the Old English Corpus." Thesis, Georgia State University, 2015. 

Given the Beowulf connection, I did look to the troll connection; I always thought of Grendel as some sort of troll.  But I have already done a Troll-wife (a type of hag) and a Trolla (a type of troll witch).  There also seems to be a demonic or even diabolic association with this creature. But I have also already done demonic trolls.  Given the Old-English and Middle-English sources of the word I even thought that something along the lines of a proto-hag might work, but I have done those as well in the Ur-hag

Robinson details some comments from Tolkien on his reading of Beowulf and spends time talking about the monster (and true to her thesis, the noble warriors) that appear in the poem.

Both Grendel and his mother are described as aglæca. While I like to think of Grendel as a troll and his mother as more of a troll-wife, maybe there is more to it. 

Grendel by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton
Grendel by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton

Aglæca
Large Humanoid

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 8d8**+16 (52 hp)
  HD (Large): 8d10**+16 (60 hp)
Attacks: claw, claw, bite
Damage: 1d6+4 x2, 1d8+4
Special: Cause fear, magic required to hit, regenerate 1 hp per round, infravision, sunlight sensitivity. 
Size: Large
Save: Monster 8
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: XIX [D] x2
XP: 1,750 (OSE) 1,840 (LL)

The aglæca is a large humanoid creature that appears to be something of a mix of both ogre and troll. It is blue-ish grey in color with patches of dark blue that are the color of bruises. It smells of rotting meat,  decay, and the sea.  Its long muscular arms end in large hands with great claws. Its mouth has large fangs and tusks and maybe most disturbingly, its eyes burn with a fierce intelligence.

It is believed to be a descendant of the great giants and Jötunns of the north and the ancestor to the more common ogre and troll. Some scholars speculate that there is a bit of demonic blood in this creature, or even something more evil and primal.   

The aglæca causes fear (as per the magic-user spell cause fear) to any that sees it.  It will use this power to fearlessly attack opponents.  It will use its claws and bite in an attack. While it is intelligent and knows the value of weapons in combat, its berserker-like fury will cause it to abandon weapons in favor of its own hands.  The aglæca will take anything it kills back to their caves to eat. Their preferred food is humans followed by elves, halflings, and dwarves.  

Only magic weapons or magic can hit it and it can regenerate 1 hp per round.  The aglæca prefers to fight at night or in the dark.  It attacks at -1 in light and at -2 in bright sunlight. Aglæca speaks the local languages and giant. They are fearless in battle.

The origins of the aglæca are a mystery. It is speculated that they are very, very old creatures. Thankfully they are very rare and getting rarer to find all the time.

Grendel's Mother by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton
Grendel's Mother by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton

Aglæc-wif
Medium Humanoid

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Lawful Evil]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
  Swim: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 6d8**+12 (39 hp)
Attacks: claw, claw, bite
Damage: 1d6+3 x2, 1d8+3
Special: Cause fear, magic required to hit, regenerate 1 hp per round, infravision, witch magic. 
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: XIX [D] x2
XP: 1,250 (OSE) 1,280 (LL)

The aglæc-wif is the smaller female of the aglæca species.  It is conjectured that there may in fact be larger female aglæca that are not aglæc-wif and the aglæc-wif might be another related creature.  So far the only aglæc-wif that have been recorded have been a pair with a larger aglæca.

Like the aglæca, the aglæc-wif appears to be related to the troll and/or ogres.  They also are quite intelligent and while they are perfectly happy to murder and eat any human they see, they are not just ravenous monsters.  The aglæc-wif also possesses the infravision of the aglæca but is not hampered by light or sunlight.  Also, like the aglæca, these creatures feed on humanoids, but they prefer humans to all other forms of food.

An aglæc-wif can attack with claws and bite like the aglæca, but she is also capable of using spells as a 4th level witch of the faerie, sea, or winter traditions.  Their preferred spells are charm-based. Any magic that provided protection from or special damage to Sea Hags is also effective on an aglæc-wif.

It is speculated that like a troll-wife the aglæc-wif can join a covey of hags as a third hag. Though none have ever been reported as doing so.


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