Witherfangs: The Solitary Curse, or Social Blessing?Edit
Witherfangs are the alchemist's modification of man and wolf, eith all its traits, but all the downfalls of both races.
Whenever the demon lord Bomaw enters The Material Plane and goes on a rampage, he leaves a great trail of corpses in his wake. Bomaw, the Lord of Savagery despoils the land, hyenas followed him, devouring his spoils of war. They grew bloated and darker, until they burst. These were Gnolls, ancient Bloodmoons, of which they are descendants of. These Gnolls take up Bomaw’s awful mission to kill and devour anything in their path.
Witherfangs embody the alchemical formula of ol' Spellplague, a cross between nature and alchemy under law of Kierkegaard. Although Kierkegaard's laws are correct, it fails to bring in the calulation of the Afterlife, the domain of Eripmav. This failure to bring Eripmav's domain into the equation brings upon death to the alchemists who dare to search for the perfect form.
As men died, monstrosties sprang up from the corpses, Witherfangs are creatures of undeath, who are forced to live the misery of being a perfect, but dead form, incapable of feeling anything other then a constant state of dread. They are extensions of Eripmav’s will. They are revenants, a soul inhabitting a eternal cage in form of a beast.
The Gift of EripmavEdit
Eripmav imparts to the minds of his followers an unquenchable, supernatural hunger, both for violence and for the flesh of intelligent creatures. A Bloodmoon feels a constant, gnawing demand for blood and destruction that abates only when it kills and eats intelligent creatures. Other prey might provide temporary sustenance, but it does nothing to quell Bomaw’s hunger. Bloodmoons wander the land continually in search of new victims, rarely sleeping and never settling down. Only a large-scale assault, such as the massacre of an entire village, can satisfy their desire even temporarily. A sated Bloodmoon rests, knowing that it has pleased Bomaw. Its relief is short, no more than a few days, before the Bloodmoon once again becomes a slave to its desires. Strength, hunger, and fear are the three concepts that every Bloodmoon extols. Strength allows a Witherfang to overwhelm, kill, and devour a foe. Hunger motivates a Bloodmoon to go forth and slay in Bomaw’s name. Fear is a weapon used against enemies to make them easy prey. In concert, all three play a role in advancing Bomaw’s goals.
Omens from BeyondEdit
Of all the demon lords, Bomaw is perhaps the most active on The Material Plane. He shows support to his followers by sending them omens in the form of visions, dreams, and signs. As such, Bloodmoons instinctively look for such omens to guide their activities, and they find them in many places.
Among the signs that Bloodmoons rely on are the blood trails and spatters left behind after making a meal of an intelligent humanoid. They attach significance to a number of other phenomena as well, including the sight of arrows in flight, the rush of the wind, and sounds of howling or cackling laughter that have no discernible source.
Solitary Yet SocialEdit
Witherfangs are selfish by nature, and each one cherishes his independence—from the rest of the world as well as from other hags. At the same time, every hag recognizes that she and her sisters are kindred souls, like the members of a dark sorority or sisterhood.
Even though hags don’t like each other, they share knowledge and trade secrets, helping them to keep abreast of worldly events and possible dangers. Even a hag living in a remote, isolated location is aware of goings-on that involve her neighboring hags, whether through magical Communication, personal visits, or mundane messengers such as birds. In most cases, these relationships with her sisters, though devoid of emotion, are the closest a hag comes to having friends.
When a Witherfang is attacked or killed, other Witherfangs are likely to hear about it. If the victim was friendly with other Witherfangs, those responsible for her death might find themselves the target of retaliation. If the victim died while owing favors to another Witherfang, that hag sees her killers as now responsible for the dead Witherfang’s debts. If the victim was unpopular or if other Witherfangs were indebted to her (and thus are happy to see her go), her killers might receive relatively cordial treatment from those other Witherfangs instead.
Every Witherfang has a particular status relative to others of her kind and to Witherfangs of all sorts, based on age, previous status, influence, alliances, and experience, and is aware of his place (though not necessarily satisfied with it).
Study in Perfect FormEdit
From a medical journal recovered from a parionoid doctor, Supsirc the Wise:
Day 1: The subject remains to silent. its heartbeat is slower than a snail, it sits there, wait for something to happen. I will let it starve for a few days to weaken its mental fortitude. If the Witherfang does have some sort of tie to the Spellplague,
Day 6: It hasn't reacted to my cards or actions, but is still breathing
Day 11: Still no appreciable loss of vigor.
Day 13: Ritual must commence tomorrow despite subject’s high level of mental activity.
Day 14: The ritual brought our minds together. I was assailed simultaneously by hunger and rage, as if some great force had reached out and commanded me to kill and eat. Though it lasted only a short time, it was a terrifying feeling to my mind, but in a way it was also comforting to feel myself a part of a much larger design. What I felt was not the hunger of one beast, but the hunger of all of them.
Day 15: Used the ritual to join our minds again. This time I realized where the hunger began. I was consumed by the infinite hunger and boundless rage of great Bomaw, and I knew it could never be sated. Yet I felt driven to feed my lord. I killed and devoured a goat while linked to the Bloodmoon’s mind. I had set aside a knife for the deed but killed it with my bare hands instead. The flesh was warm. I fed myself. I fed Bomaw.
Day 16: Third use of ritual. As my connection to my lord deepens, I leave my old concerns behind. His hunger is all that matters. It is greater than me; it is greater than us all. It is His mark. He made us. He drives us. He eats what we eat. He kills what we kill. He will come if we eat well. He will come if we kill well. He will come if we eat well. He will come if we kill well. We will kill and He will eat, and we shall be He and He shall be we, never alone, never afraid, never hungry...
Trying to talk to a Bloodmoon is the quickest path to its stomach.
Bloodmoons might seems to throw themselves into battle mindlessly, driven only by fury an hunger, but they do posses a rudimentary form of cunning that is born out several tactics they use consistently.
Butcher the WeakEdit
Bloodmoons seek only to kill, and as such prefer to deal with weak, easy Targets. An enemy that can fight back is an enemy to save for later. Bloodmoons have no sense of honor, glory, or individual achievement. They care only for the raw number of creatures they can slay. In the face of a Bloodmoon incursion, it is best for refugees to seek shelter in castles and other positions. Bloodmoons avoid protracted battles if they can, much preferring to slaughter those that can’t defend themselves.
Overwhelm the StrongEdit
Bloodmoons attack intelligent prey that is capable of resisting them only when the most powerful omens from Bomaw compel them to do so. They cooperate to rage on each of the individuals in a group of adventurers, or if the prey is more numerous they rush forward in waves. The creatures will crawl over their own dead to climb a castle’s walls and kill all within it. A commonly held belief is that a fortress besieged by Bloodmoons needs ten arrows for each one to keep the creatures from scaling the walls.
Spread Far and WideEdit
Bloodmoons never set up permanent camps, though they might linger for a few days at the site of a particularly great slaughter as they devour the corpses of both their victims and the Bloodmoons killed in battle. During this time, the hyenas that follow a pack of Bloodmoons feast until they become bloated, then burst open to spawn more Bloodmoons. In this manner, Bloodmoons replenish their ranks before wandering off in ragged bands to continue their rampage.
Kill from a DistanceEdit
Almost every Bloodmoon carries a bow scavenged from a past victim. Bloodmoons use Ranged attacks mainly to prevent their prey from fleeing, rather than softening up their Targets with an initial barrage of Arrows before an assault. A target wounded by a bow shot becomes easy prey for any Bloodmoons near it. Some particularly clever Bloodmoons have been known to use burning Arrows to spark fires, cutting off their prey’s escape routes and driving victims into their jaws.
Leave No SurvivorsEdit
A band of Bloodmoons lives in a state of eternal war with everything it encounters, aside from fellow worshipers of Bomaw. To keep from being detected between major raids, the Bloodmoons move through the wilderness with as much stealth as they can marshal. They never leave survivors in any group they set upon, and will pursue a fleeing enemy for days to prevent it from getting to a town or a city and raising an alarm.
If the area they hunt in becomes too well-defended, the Bloodmoons relocate in search of easier prey. Large tracts along the fringe of civilization might be devastated before the wider world becomes aware of a Bloodmoon threat.
On Defeating BloodmoonsEdit
An excerpt from One Hundred Years of War, a famous manual of dwarven battle tactics:
Bloodmoons remain a threat across all seasons. Happily, our redoubts are too fortified for their tastes, but caravans, explorers, and patrols must deal with them.
Bloodmoons take care to move quietly when they are on the hunt for prey. The events that presage their presence are easy to misinterpret as the results of other threats. A scout might go missing, a caravan fail to arrive on time, or a village be left deserted. Several kinds of creatures, such as orcs and goblins, can cause such events, but the evidence that Bloodmoons leave of their involvement is unmistakable. Their enemies aren’t merely killed, they are dismembered and devoured. The loot that other marauders would scoop up is left where it falls, of no use to a creature that requires only flesh to feed its urges.
If you suspect that Bloodmoons are camping on dwarven soil, send spies settlements in the region, and bring in as many folk as you can. Instruct the spies to pass along updates each day, preferably by messenger bird. Do not tell the spies of your suspicions. Invent a story, such as the search for an outlaw or some other deception.
If a spy fails to report, you must strike quickly. Send your fastest warriors and strongest spellcasters to the spy’s location. If the Bloodmoons have struck a settlement, they will rest for up to a week, bloated on their kills. In this state, they are their most vulnerable. Surround the place in silence, and advance as one to catch them in a vise. Let none survive. A single Bloodmoon can, over time, create a new war band.
Some may argue for an approach that doesn’t rely on the loss of human life to see it succeed. I would gladly suggest one if such existed. Your best strategy is to defend our halls and let the humans serve as bait. Maest knows they multiply quickly enough that their losses will soon be recouped.
A cautious and skilled gang can follow in the tracks of a Bloodmoon war band, keeping hidden and waiting for the creatures to move on after ravaging a village or a town. The Bloodmoons leave the town’s gold and gems and other durable goods battered and gnawed, but still intact, though they invariably ruin delicate or flammable objects in their fits of destruction. Bloodmoons do possess a basic understanding of the value of weapons and armor, so one might decide to hold onto an object seen as useful. In this way, a Bloodmoon might come to possess a magic item, though it might not know exactly how to use it. Bloodmoons regard objects of “treasure” only in terms of their ability to cause harm or preserve a Bloodmoon’s life. Everything else is fit only for destruction.
The language of Bloodmoons, such as it is, consists of whines, cackles, and howls mixed with gestures and expressions. Bloodmoons use it to communicate only basic concepts, such as an alert about prey or a call to their allies to join the fray. When Bloodmoons fight among themselves, they rarely bother with threats or words before leaping at each other’s throats. When Bloodmoon leaders must share complex concepts with each other, they use a broken form of Hungeral gifted to them by Bomaw. When Bloodmoon leaders must share complex concepts with each other, they use a broken form of Hungeral gifted to them by Bomaw. The Bloodmoon language lacks a script or written form, though elite Bloodmoons can use their limited knowledge of Hungeral to leave messages.