Monday, October 2, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: D&DGII The Monsters of the Black Forest Mythos

Welcome to the first Monstrous Monday of October 2023. Monstrous Mondays are always a treat for me in October since I can really do some of my favorite monsters here. This October is special for a number of reasons.  First, we have five Mondays in October this year so that already feels like a bonus monster. Secondly, I am going to do monsters of the "Black Forest Mythos" for my speculative Deities & Demigods II project. And finally this is my first *real* entry for the October RPG Blog Carnival: Horrors, Gods, and Monsters.

The Monsters of the Black Forest

A brief recap of what this project is. I speculated on a combined Roman-Norse Pantheon taking root somewhere in the Black Forest region of Germany in the 6th or 7th centuries AD. While there are some similarities between the gods I am working on and their Proto-Indo-European ancestors, I am not trying to recreate the PIE gods.  I am not doing archeology or comparative anthropology here. I am doing game design.

The goals then for this pantheon (and their monsters) are:

  1. It is for use in a game first and foremost, and AD&D 1st Edition in particular
  2. I want to stick as close to history as I can unless it violates #1 above. 
  3. I want to write this as something I would have written in 1985-6.

Why that last rule? I want to capture the feel of what I felt was peak AD&D 1st for me.  And since today I am talking about monsters, I have a fourth rule just for them.

  1. Monsters need to reflect the tales and fears people of this age would have had. 

Pretty simple, really. My idea is that the Romans fleeing the fall of Rome would have brought their gods and monsters, from house spirits to more horrible things. Same with the Germanic/Norse people. The monsters need to be scary but also fit the myths (#2) and be something that works in an AD&D game (#1).

Beware the Forest

I live in a huge metropolitan area (Chicago), I grew up in a small town, but it was still a town. My wife grew up in the country. We went to college near a very old forest (Shawnee National Forest), so I understand why people in late Antiquity and the Middle Ages feared the forest. It is where witches, goblins, and, worst of all, the Devil himself lived.  The people who made these myths lived in one largest forests in Europe, the Black Forest of Germany. I really want to lean in on that and capture WHY this is a scary ass place. Their gods are for solace in a changed world, the monsters though are a lot closer at hand.

I don't want this place to be scary. I want it to be terrifying.

Of Gods and Monsters

One of the things I loved about the Deities & Demigods was getting new insights to old monsters. Old in two senses. First, the obvious one, these were monsters from mythology. Secondly, old in the sense that they may have already been part of the Monster Manual and now get a new (or old as it were) version.  The best example of this is the Greek Myths. So many monsters in the Monster Manual (even true still today) came from Greek myths. Using them in context changes them a bit.  This was one of the things I explored in my One Man's God series

The same will be true here.  So to start off I want to revisit some monsters I have posted here and talk about how they fit into this new/old/different worldview. 


Ah. Now this one is kind of my poster child for these myths. The Aglæca, as I have built it, is the monster type that Grendel was. Grendel's mother then was an Aglæc-wif. Why poster child? Well back in grade school (pre-1980) I read this book of myths that I would love to find again. It had all the Greek myths, then Norse, and finally, it ended with Beowulf. In my young mind, there was a progression in these tales as time went on. One lead to the other in a mostly unbroken line. That isn't exactly how it happened, but for these myths I am going to assume they did.


Elves are tricky since they are an established AD&D mainstay. So there are light elves (the PCs) and there are "other" elves. 

Hag, Hyrrokkin

These hags are related to the giants/titans/Hüne.

The Titans of Roman myth and the primordial Giants of Norse/Germanic myth. I created these just for these myths.


Kobolds are part of Germanic myth and the D&D interpretations have moved a bit away from their mythologic and folklore counterparts. Don't get me wrong, I like D&D Kobolds. I just like my versions as well. 


No reason other than it is a cool monster.


Trolls and Ogres will be smooshed into one type of creature called a Troll. They are the offspring of the giants (Norse ideas) and are fairly elemental (Roman ideas) in nature. Though like the trolls and dwarves of Germanic myths, they turn to stone when exposed to sunlight.

Others I am considering are: 

This is a good start. I have some new ones for the rest of this month and I think it will be a great project.

1 comment:

Dick McGee said...

Everything's better with Yule Kitty. Plus, when's the last time you saw a PC receive new clothing as a gift? And no, looting magic items doesn't count. :)