Monday, July 29, 2019


A sort of 'creature feature' like enemy. Giant centipede-lookin things, burrowing through Old Jenkin's cornfields, able to tunnel away from hordes of peasants with slings in a round or two and way too dangerous for regular people to have much hope of defeating. The perfect sort of monster for heroes to defeat to earn the love of the common folk.

On the downside, treasure type C is a pretty unreliable sort of treasure, with some low chances of gems and jewelry and magic items and some lower coin denominations not even a level 1 adventurer would care much about. To make the arduous task of excavating an Anhkheg lair (Anhkheg only looks like a good word in all caps) worthwhile, I would recommend the treasure be pre-rolled so local peasants can tell the players if anything valuable got eaten, like a tax collectors ring or a failed adventurers magic wotsit.

The critters are real dangerous in a straight-up fight, too, and tend to come in small squads likely to have about one ankheg per player with a no. appearing of 1d6. The small 3hd ones hit just as hard as the 8hd monsters(3d6 damage), and have a once-every-six-hours breath weapon for 8d4, save for half. Yeeowch. Old tactics like burning oil and volleys of arrows are foiled by a burrowing speed, and they can attack from below using their own antennae to detect surface dwellers. An armor class of plate+shield, or chain+shield if you can strike the pink underbelly(I'd rule that if you're in front of them and they've reared up on their front legs to strike the belly is exposed), ensures that unless your party is entirely fighters, it's unlikely you can simply lean on the action economy to slay it before it slaughters people. On the plus side, they are fairly slow burrowers and should be able to be fled from.

So in my mind, the AD&D Anhkheg is an exercise in finding ways to kill them that aren't 'hit it with a sword' in an environment, typically a village or at least one farm, where the players have plenty of prep time and materials. Things that come to my mind immediately are deadfall traps with a person tied to the counterweight- anhkheg digs up beneath someone, they release a rope, and a hauled boulder falls and simultaneously drags the person up into the sky in case the anhkheg survives. I'm sure players would come up with something after an initial straightforward attempt ends in half the party melting and the wounded anhkheg(s) burrowing away before it can be finished off, or the wounded players running away before they can be finished off.
Maybe a cauldron of boiling oil, or a basket of snakes, or a poisoned dead animal

Modern drawings of the anhkheg made it progressively spikier, browner, and more monstrous, but I kinda like them as just kinda a mutant centipede/mantis thing, with a smoother outline for actually burrowing quickly instead of a bunch of body-spikes to catch on every root and rock beneath the earth. Plus, the modern variants, even the ones I like that are sleek and almost cockroachy, seem to have mostly done away with the pink underbelly, the cowards!

 Honestly they fine as is, a sort of filler episode monster to menace some small holding the players are invested in and teach them the value of prep time, or just be a high-stakes slugathon with acid and whack-a-mole shenanigans. The first H seems gratuitous and honestly I'm fine with just calling them giant mutant acid-spitting centipedes too to fully dodge copyright
please don't look at that back left leg extending back into some forbidden dimension
or the leaning hut of Pisa
or what appear to be unripe thatch roofs growing as fully formed vegetable life

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