Endless Blue – Week 37.3 – Creatures of the Endless Blue   Leave a comment

Zoology

Creatures of the Endless Blue

To say animals carved out a niche in the ecosystem is an understatement.  They have systematically spread across the seas, and everywhere they have gone they have evolved to excel in those conditions.  The expansive space of the oceans of Elqua have provided ample opportunity for nature to do what it does best — diversify.

Native life on Elqua evolved in a hexapedial form.  Even the pisceans themselves share this six-limbed shape, with two arms, two pelvic fins, and two fused legs that are the tail.  Most lifeforms more complex than invertebrates will continue this common trait.

There are essentially two ecologies in the Endless Blue setting — that chronicled here of the intelligent characters that lead daily lives of adventure, and the horrendous realm above the rolling waves known as the Vastness.  There are a fringe of species that straddle that otherwise sharp division; aquatic creatures that rise to the surface and terrestrial monstrosities that fish the waters for sustenance.  In the food chain of life, it is usually the creatures of the Vastness that feed on the life in the sea, and this is the prime origin of the abject fear the aberrations invoke.

Life in the Vastness is dominated by quixotic aberrations.  These creatures will have bizzare arrangements of organs and alien anatomy.  Familiar features for piscean races such as faces are not found among the creatures of the surface.  They will have features such as some way of sensing the world around them, some method of consuming nutrients, and mobility of some manner, but they evolved a different mechanic for accomplishing this than that of the creatures under the waves.  This is due to the Ice Age at the end of the White, which successfully cleaved Elqua into two and set frozen ice as the barrier between the two ecologies.

Below the Waves

With this divergence in mind, the following creatures from the Monster Manual are suitable for use in the Endless Blue campaign setting:

Aboleth
These creatures trap unwary pisceans and  transmogrify them into horrible parodies of their previous selves called Skum.  Enslaved, they tend to the aboleth’s needs at the cost of their own.

Allip
These are the undead remnants of pisceans swallowed by black water.

Animated Object
These are the product of piscean spellcasters, and are most likely never found in the wild.

Assassin Vine
These aggressive plants are found in the Lumulus Basin and other volcanic sites.  They are also occasionally found in floating sargasso, both mundane and undead versions.

Bodak
Bodaks are formed when a living piscean is killed in the clutches of an undead sargasso.

Chaos Beast
These are solitary abominations found deep in natural caverns under water, where they lay like a bubbling brine pool until prey comes into range.

Chuul
These are an example of a Vastness aberration acclimating to an aquatic environment.

Cloaker
The appearance of Cloakers is less like a cloak, and more akin to a domesticated species of ray.

Darkmantle
These are a primitive forefather of the Kraken species, still utilizing a natural hard shell that their descendant long ago abandoned.

Devourer
As ethereal creatures, these monstrosities would only be found as a result of latent ancient magics in the Maw flaring to life.

Dinosaur
Aquatic variants of dinosaurs still exist in the vast oceans, where they have had the space to escape and hide.  Speicies like elasm0saurs, ichthyosaurs, leptocleidus, and moasaurs are ideally suited for the various sea zones.

Dire animals
Aquatic variants of dire animals would be such creatures as megalodons, coelacanths, and placoderms.

Dragon Turtle
Another example of a creature that can grow to be of Tremendous or Immense size.

Elemental (water)
These creatures are expressions of the element of water, and are more related to animated objects that to extraplanar intelligences.  They are little more than vorticies given direction by the summoner, in actuality.

Fungus
These fungi live along the ocean bottoms, carrion eaters digesting the sunken bodies consigned to the depths.

Ghoul
Called lacedon, these aquatic versions of Ghouls and Ghasts hide along the reefs of the world.

Gibbering Mouther
A variant species of chaos beast, gibbering mouthers suck a victim dry of all their bodily fluids instead of liquefying the entire body.

Hag (sea)
Each hag is an individual, and it is thought they are not a race but some kind of cursed piscean.  Despite their horrific appearance, hags are treated with a reserved respect, and are often entreated as oracles.  The prognostication of the end of the Cerulian Epoch is only taken seriously when the few known hag coveys all independently foretell of its passing.

Homunculus
These are tiny artifically created pisceans made by spellcasters as servants.  They will usually be based on some type of pre-existing fish, so the coloration of homonculi does not need to conform to those of a real piscean race.

Hydra
These are multi-headed sea serpents that swim through the deepest seas.  Pyrohydras exist, but spout gouts of boiling vitriol instead of flame.

Kraken
The Kraken are an extinct species that form the basis of much of the Endless Blue recent back story.  Their occupation of the Fluid Nations not only changed the politics of the world, but the left-behind remnants of their especially diabolic magics still linger.

Kuo-Tao
These are the Kouton.

Locathah
These are the Locanth.

Merfolk
These are the Mer.

Mimic
These masters of shape changing put the Ceph’s camouflage to shame.  They do not just alter the patterns of pigmentation to match their surroundings, they can actually mold their bodies into matching shapes.

Morgh
A rare product of undead sargasso, these undead have a greater chance of appearing whenever the Maelstrom disrupts an undead sargasso.

Naga (water)
It is foolishly believed that the Yaun-Teel evolved from this disappearing species.

Nightshade
Suitable creatures, though should rarely be used due to the tenuous connection between Elqua and the ethereal plane/plane of shadow.  The nightshades are the actual native species of their etheric shadow world, walking unseen among us.

Ooze
Translucent (or nearly so in cloudy waters), oozes are the equivalent of invisible stalkers.

Purple Worm
These gargantuan creatures are found along the Spine of the World, and next to the difficulty traversing the Spine, they prove to be the next biggest barrier to the other side.  A candidate for Tremendous and Immense sized variants.  They enjoy using currentsense as well as tremorsense, and can use to two in conjuction, so long as the object is within 60 feet of the creature.

Remorhaz
A variant of the Purple Worm in the polar regions of Elqua.  Their extraordinary ability of Heat does heat damage instead of fire.  Like the Purple Worm, Remorhaz have a combined use of tremorsense and currentsense.

Roper
Due to the buoyancy of water, ropers are found both on the floor and hanging from the ceiling of underwater caves.  Their extraordinary vulnerability to fire becomes a vulnerability to heat instead.

Sahuagin
These are the Sahaguin.  Their rare malenti offspring are a form of planetouched called genasi.

Scrag
These are aquatic trolls, large lumbering abominations that have been twisted by horrible magic by the Kraken.

Shadow
Despite their incorporeal substance, Shadows are detectable with ultravision.  So even in the Shelf, the darkest depths of Elqua’s oceans, they can be spotted should they come close enough to enter the ultravoilet light source.

Shambling Mound
The kelpygmies utilize these huge monsters as muscle when they attack the piscean races.  They are colorfully called “swimming bogs”, or ” moving mangroves”.

Skeleton
The most common form of undead encountered on Elqua.  Skeletons, without the flesh that unites their fins, cannot swim more than a few feet from the ocean floor.  This lessens their threat to ambulatory creatures, but permanent structures cannot escape their relentless approach.

Skum
These are transformed pisceans pressed into the service of an aboleth.  Physically transmogrified, there is litttle left of their previous minds to rebel.

Spectre
A variant form of Spectre, called a Banshee, can make sonic attack with its wail (see the spell Wail of the Banshee).

Tendriculous
A variant form of Shambling Mound with notable regenerative abilities.

Tojanida
These creatures are one of the few aquatic species that is capable of surviving in the hostile environment of the Vastness.  As a result, they are usually avoided whenever possible, or attacked when victory is clearly evident.

Wight
As corporeal undead, wights cling to the sea bed in an instinctive urge to get closer to the Source, the final resting place it has been denied.

Will-O’-Wisp
These creatures are frequently mistaken for any of the bio-luminescent fish that fill the waters.

Wraith
The wraith’s hatred of the light prevents them from entering into the Shore of Elqua’s oceans during the daytime, but may encroach once the sun has set.

Yuan-Ti
These are the Yaun-Teel.

Lycanthropes
Were-beasts like sharks, rays, barracuda, and other aquatic carnivores are compatible with the setting.  The interaction between lycanthropy and the three moons of Elqua is different:  Werebeasts are always in a state of transformation, with the new moon dampening the bloodlust.

Zombie
Piscean zombies have enough necrotic flesh clinging to their unhallowed bones to enable them swim after the livig..s

Vegepygmy — These are the Kelpygmies 0f the setting, strange, small piscean-shaped creatures composed of seaweed and other aquatic plants.  They are not represented in the Monster Manual, but their existence is important enough to the setting to be mentioned here.


Above the Waves

There is significantly less land exposed to the air of the blue waterworld than space taken up by water.  Only a tiny 5% of the planet’s exposed surface is land, and that is broken up and scattered across the globe as island archipelagos.  With less space to evolve in, the species are smaller than found in the fathomless seas, and more diversified due to their sequestered habitats.  Since the glaciers’ retreat during the Cardinal Epoch, the barrier between the two worlds disappeared and life has began to cross over.  The Allip is an example of aberrant life that left land behind and invaded the kingdom of the sea.  At the other hand of the spectrum, the some of the aquatic dinosaurs left the crowded waters to find prey on land.

These creatures from the Monster Manual are suitable to inhabit the Vastness.  As such, they will have little interaction with the characters of the Endless Blue unless they injudiciously swim too closely to the surface.

Destrachan
Digester
Dinosaur
(terrestrial variants)
Ethereal Filcher
Ethereal Mauler
Grey Render
Grick
Otyugh
Phantom Fungus
Stirge
Yrthak

Evolution’s Mistakes

These entries in the Monster Manual might be suitable, but need some type of alteration to make them mesh better or not suffer from repetition.  They could be used as the doomed remnants of practically extinct species, or perhaps as strange genetic mutations that could one day become new creatures:

Ankheg
Possibly a variant of the Remorhaz.

Arrowhawk
Remove the more obvious avian features to make the creature more of an aberration.

Blink Dog
Blink beasts would be a form of dolphin, delphiz, or porpoise.

Bulette
Possibly a silt dweller,with its crest breaking the surface of sandy sea bottoms.

Carrion Crawler
These would be better used as a form of jellyfish.

Displacer Beast
Instead of resembling a puma, the displacer beast resembles a large squid.

Dragon
The traditional role of the dragon in standard campaigns — the great wyrm razing villages — is taken up by the Kraken.

Frost Worm
Perphaps should be combined with the Remorhaz.

Gargoyle
A form of animated object. but following the piscean form.  Almost an intermediate step between animated object and humunculus.

Giant
This becomes a template that is applicable to  nearly living any creature, be they mundane animals or essoteric aberrations.

Golem
Some materials are inappropriate for making constructs, like iron.  Flesh and clay are possible, but either would be poor swimmers.

Grimlock
Original denizens of the Undertow, they follow the picean form.  The primary antagonist for those trapped in the Bubble Below.

Medusa
These would bei ndividuals, but not a race.  Something akin to hags.

Mummy
Mummies would be the bodies of the dead appropriately given last rites, but the weighting meant to carry them to the bottom of the sea has somehow failed.  Cheated of their resting place, the bloating corpse rises to the surface where it is caught up in an undead sargasso, thus animating the creature.

Phasm
Would better fit the setting as creatures of only animal intelligence.

Sea Lion
Perhaps best filling the mythological role of the griffon.

Shocker Lizard
These would be some form of electric eel.

Tarrasque
A unique creature, one of the few Tremendous and Immense sized monsters in the setting.

Triton
These would be the equivalent of angels, messengers of the gods.  When communing with the domain of their god, a Triton will often answer in the deity’s place.

Umber Hulk
A good candidate for the Vastness, but would require a less humanoid form.

These creatures are simply not suitable for the Endless Blue campaign setting,  They either depend too heavily on a terrestrial life form that never evolved on Elqua as their starting point (birds), are extraplanar in origin (demons), or require yet another sentient race in the political arrangement of nations.

Achaierai
Aranea
Athach
Azer
Barghest
Basilisk
Behir
Beholder
Belker
Bugbear
Celestial
Centaur
— There are no “Half-piscean, Half-beast” creatures in the wilds of the seas.  The existence of the piscean form — itself a hybrid morphology — is a normal species in the setting.  To further hybridize a non-existing part of a hybrid race begins to strain credulity.
Chimera
Choker
Cockatrice
Couatl
Delver
Demon
(This role is filled by the various religions of the world portraying the aberrations of the surface world as the horrors of hell).
Devil
(This role is filled by the various religions of the world portraying the aberrations of the surface world as the horrors of hell).
Doppleganger
Dragonne
Drider
— See Centaur above.
Dryad — The world of Elqua seems spiritually non-sentient.  There is no “spirit of the forest” that is expressed in piscean form.
Dwarf
Elemental
(other than water)
Elf
Ettercap
Ettin
Formian
Genie
Giant Eagle
Giant Owl
Girallon
Gnoll
(and by extension, Flind)
Gnome
Goblin
(this role is filled by the Kelpygmy)
Gorgon
Griffon
Halfling
Harpy
— See Centaur above.
Hellhound
Hippogriff
Hobgoblin
(this role is filled by Kelpygmy)
Howler
Invisible Stalker
(this role is filled by oozes)
Kobold
(this role is filled by Kelpgymy)
Krenshar
Lamia
— See Centaur above.
Lammasu
Lillend
Lizardfolk
(this role is filled by the Sahaguin)
Magmin
Manticore
Mephit
(this role is filled by Homonculus)
Mind Flayer
Minotaur
Naga
(other than water)
Night Hag
Nightmare
Nymph
— See Dryad above.
Ogre
(this role is filled by the Narwahl)
Orc
(this role is filled by the Narwahl)
Owlbear
Pegasus
Phase Spider
Planetouched
Pseudodragon
Rakshasa
Rast
Ravid
Roc
Rust Monster
Salamander
Satyr
Shadow Mastiff
Shield Guardian
(the role is filled by warbeasts)
Slaad
Sphinx
Spider Eater
Sprite
(this role is filled by the Kelpygmy)
Thoqqua
Titan
(see Giant)
Treant
Troglodyte
(this roll is filled by the Sahaguin)
Troll
Unicorn
Vampire
— Vampires are unable to cross running water, and in a setting where the currents flow around all the oceans constantly, to have a vampire would result in a foe unable to move about.
Vargouille
Winter Wolf
Worg
Wyvern
Xill
Xorn
Yeth Hound

Hippocampus — Despite their seemingly perfect fit, hippocampi are somewhat anachronistic.  There are no horses on Elqua, and an aquatic version sticks out like a sore thumb.

NOTE: While many of these are inappropriate monsters for the game, the idea of the monsters can still exist in mythology and imagery.  The hippocampus, for example, is the name of the seahorse used in heraldry.

This by no means is the full extent of life thriving in the oceans of Elqua.  There are perhaps the more extreme forms of life.  There exists a plethora of mundane sea animals vying for survival that fill the waters in the same manner wild birds, insect colonies, and verminous rodentia thrive in the periphery of our lives.  There also exist those non-magical creatures that can pose a danger to pisceans, the equivalent of bears or wolves.  And do not forget the domesticated animals of the packbreeders, whom have given the societies of the Fluid Nations the pedogenic breeds of dolphins, the delphiz.

“Life began with water; it cannot exist without it.
It thrives in its enveloping embrace,
and followed its meandering currents across the world.
Water is the source of life, the end of life.
To it, we owe our very existence.”
— Seamus Lorwynn, father of the theory of evolution.

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