Sunday, 27 October 2019

GLAUCONS - (Creatures of a Darker Age No.1)

From the cold waters of the Old Sea to the murky depths of the Lake Ishmakh, legends abound of  aberrant creatures combining both dwelling beneath the waves and surfacing only to spawn and to feed. Across the known world, these legends take on my forms and terrifying shapes, yet none more frightening than the Glaucons... it is a terror born from a curious twist of fate: though these creatures despise humanity, their dependence upon us is total.

Illustration by Mani Vertigo

Until I witnessed these abominations with my own eyes I scoffed at the fisherman's tales of mermaids and merman: but do not be mistaken, these piscene wretches fall far from the fronds of the merfolk's undersea garden. Standing as tall as a man, yet stooped and hunched so that it almost neckless, the creatures are coloured all over in the blue-green, slime-exuding skin that grants them their name. I have had the misfortune to handle them at close quarters, and can confirm that their skin possesses the texture of an eel or hagfish.

As tall as men they stand and reminiscent in musculature and anatomy, save for the absence of visible genitalia and the undeniably icthyic head. Conversely, their hands and feet would resemble those of a human were it not for the webbing running between the digits and the glaucal colouring, shimmering iridescent when the scales catch the light.

All of which in summation one could attribute to innumerable defects and diseases of a deprived childhood, were it not for that horrific visage: two black, bulbous eyes, seemingly facing forwards and to the sides simultaneously; the unhappy turn of the thick-lipped mouth, lined with needle like teeth; the crest running from the centre of the forehead and down the back, terminating in a long, rudder like tail which they are known to use as an additional weapon.

Illustration by Mani Vertigo
The creatures know not of shame, and wear no clothing, though they will occasionally adorn themselves with the armour and armaments of their enemies. They fight ferociously in the water, swimming as speedily as a barracuda, but on land they are slow and plodding. However, in close quarters they possess a terrible attack, trivialising the fears their opponent may have had for their claws, tail or mouth.

Without warning, the creature is capable of vomiting forth a caul-like mantle of slime from its gut, engulfing its prey and burning its skin and extremities. The victim will struggle to free itself from the cage, and the longer it spends so entrapped, the worse the consequences will be. Not only does the caul burn and ravage the extremities of those trapped inside, but it also alters the very physiology of its prey, in extreme cases transforming them into aborted amphibians, gasping their last breaths of dry air, not realising the only thing that could save them now would be submersion.

This, it is said, is how the Glaucons reproduce. From the primitive fishing villages lining the coasts  of lakes, rivers, and oceans, they extort a terrible toll: each solstice and equinox, they will come from the water and take the youngest resident deep below the waves, never to be seen again. Those villages that acquiesce experience bountiful hauls in their fishing nets, while those that submit to sentiment and refuse to trade their offspring in this manner are liable to fall victim to the true wrath and horrible carnage of these demonic creatures.

Illustration by Mani Vertigo

Armour: as leather; Hit Dice: 2+1**; HP: 11; Move: 60' (20') on land; 210' (70') underwater; Attacks: bite+/ claw/ tail OR grapple++ OR special+++; Damage: 1d3/ 1d4/ 1d3 OR special No. App.: 2d4 (3d8); Save as: F2;  Morale: 10;

Glaucons covet the young of humanoid species and will seek to abduct them (or diminutive humanoids they mistake for humans). Otherwise, they are intelligent combatants and will not enter conflicts that they do not think they can win.
They will readily end any conflict in return for a healthy humanoid infant.
+ The bite attack is reserved for when it is grappling an opponent, otherwise the glaucon makes one claw and one tail attack each round. If desired, a glaucon carrying a melee or ranged weapon may make a weapon attack in place of their claw attack.
++ The glaucons' preferred tactic to grapple their prey. Use whatever grapple rules have been agreed at your table, but give the glaucon advantage/+5 to any rolls as a consequence of their slippery skin.
Once grappled the glaucon will either employ its bite attack or its special attack (see below)
++ The glaucon can vomit forth a caul-like membrane from its gut, completely enveloping one creature adjacent to it. The target may make a save vs. breath attack to avoid this attack: success results in 1d4 acid damage; failure results in the effects listed below. If the target is already grappled, they are not able to make a saving throw.


1d4 acid damage each round until the creature is able to immerse itself in fresh water to remove the caul. Once the caul is removed, roll on the following mutations table, adding on the number of rounds the character was enveloped. Effects are cumulative: a result of "8" means the victim falls prey to effects 1 through 8. At the DM's discretion, these effects may manifest over a number of days, weeks, months... or all at once.

1d12+ rounds EFFECT(S)
1 The character suffers no long-term effects.
2 The character's skin takes on a slight glaucal hue.
3 A black membrane has fallen over the victim's eyes: they may now see perfectly clearly beneath the water. -1 to charisma.
4 Webbing forms between the victim's toes: their swimming speed improves by 50%.
5 All hair and keratinous tissue (including horns, fingernails, scales (but not fish scales) and eyelashes) decompose, with whatever consequences the DM sees fit, but probably another -1 to charisma and -1 to constitution)
6 Gill slits form at the victims neck: functionally useless, they nevertheless unsettle land-dwelling species (-1 to reaction rolls with non-piscine/ amphibious creatures)
7 Webbing forms between the victim's hands: swimming speed improves by a further 25%, but -1 to reaction rolls with non-piscine/ amphibious creatures)
8 Iridescent scales erupt all over the victim's skin: make a charisma check, if failed lose another point; if passed, gain one as the victim embraces their new identity (reaction rolls may still be penalised, however)
9 Teeth (if any) fall out: victim can no longer consume iron rations unless soaked for a week in fresh water to soften it (this also removes its non-perishable properties); all other food must be mashed into an easily digestible paste. -1 to charisma (if charisma has now reached lower than 3, the victim becomes an NPC and seeks to join the glaucon community beneath the waves.
10 Dorsal crest: numerous cartilaginous spikes begin to erupt from victim's body, forming a continuous line from the centre of the forehead, over the top of the skull and down to the base of the spine (and along a tail, if one is present). These spikes are connected by tissue to form a dorsal crest, which may or may not be coloured.
11 The black membrane over the victim's eyes thickens, reducing vision on land to 30' only, regardless of light level (unable to see in pitch darkness, as with all creatures).
12 The scaly skin of the victim begins to exude a thick mucus which emits a pungent odour, reducing charisma by 2 points. The victim also receives +2 to any grapple rolls, owing to their slimy skin.
13 A flat, rudder-like tail extends from the victim's spine (if they already possess a tail, it becomes more rudder-like). Swim speed increases by 100%. All breeches, robes and the like will need to be especially tailored from now on. In addition, the victim may make a 1d3 tail attack each round.
14 Gill-slits become semi-functional: additional oxygen allows them to function underwater for three times as long as a before.
15 Terrible claws: the bony extremities of their webbed hands extend into viscous talons: their unarmed attacks now inflict 1d3+str damage.
16 Terrible teeth, terrible jaws: their mouth re-consolidates into a terrible, gummy maw, lined with multiple rows of homodontic, razor-sharp teeth. They may make a bite attack against any creature they are grappling. They lose four points of charisma, reverting to an NPC if charisma falls below 3.
17+ Gill-slits become fully functional: they may breathe underwater, but can only survive on land for twelve hours at a time (this may be circumnavigated by immersing their head in a bucket every twelve hours)


  1. Interesting monster. Glaucon is a famous participant in Plato's Republic. It's thus extra nice to see these terrifying creatures of same name battling for supremacy at least on paper, races like the Sahuagin from AD&D.

    1. Indeed yes! And Glaucus was one of the gods of the sea. I hadn't thought of the connection to Plato, I just added -con the way we append the suffix to so many bad guy creatures (necrons, decepticons)!