Monday, October 25, 2021

Jackals, Jackalweres, Jaguars, Ki-Rin, Kobold

 AD&D Jackal
Included because of the Bag of Tricks, these are essentially just lesser wild dogs.

AD&D Jackalwere
An odd inclusion, I assume these are similar to wolfweres, ie, a wolf that can assume human form. With low numbers appearing, a sleep gaze that only works on the unsuspecting (not once combat has started, specfically mentioned) and a vulnerability to iron weapons as well as magic, they cannot engage in incautious melee as lycanthropes might, as while steel is preferred over iron, the odds of being incidentally bludgeoned by some pig-iron craftsmanship would be much more likely than humans trying to use silver lying around. Being mistaken for a werewolf would be of great help to a Jackalwere, so they would probably try to spread false rumors so that they could both face harmless silver, and loot it afterwards.

Still, against anything but the most novice of adventuring parties, they are likely to triumph only by stealth and subterfuge. In my opinion, this makes them a sort of questionable encounter for engaging gameplay, as 'being murdered one by one in your sleep' is both a terrible way to TPK the party, and the most likely outcome of being bamboozled successfully by a jackwere or group thereof.

AD&D Jaguar
While the differences between big cats may be of interest IRL, in D&D they are essentially just smaller lions/tigers, a south-american styled palette swap, so there's not much to say.

AD&D Ki-Rin
Similar to the Coautl, this chinese-inspired entity is given a great grab-bag of magic-user spells, psionic abilities, none of which are specified or detailed in the entry here, making it largely useless for the purpose of 'opening the monster manual to run a monster without needing further prep.' Apart from a nod to having 'double strength' for anything sky-involved, the creature has little to no identity of its own, so it comes off as a rather shallow entity, a flying quadruped wizard thingy that might show up to fight the forces of Evil.

While I normally am contemptuous of later edition adaptations that only focus on monsters insofar as how they may apply tactical maths at the player party, in this case the treatment of Ki-Rin is much improved. Their benevolent protection is described as affecting 3 miles (or a hex lol) around their lairs with various effects such as the purification of water, winds saving good creatures from falls and preventing evil creatures flying, which makes for an interesting sounding region, and their role in the cosmology becomes more distinct.

AD&D Kobolds
Like many other 'evil' demihumans, Kobolds have been redeemed and popularized as a player race in many games, and have leaned more reptilian/draconic in the USA, while the word came to mean a sort of dog-person over in the Japanese RPG scene. Mythologically speaking, Kobolds have much in common with the gnomes, sprites, brownies, and pixies that D&D set them in opposition to, so I find the more friendly depiction of them as rogues and tricksters one that is more in line of the spirit of things, even if the form has been warped.

Modern reclamation aside, Kobolds are essentially just the feeblest form of vaguely goblinoid creature, having 1d4 HP and not even having significant 'leader' types. They lay eggs, occasionally train boars or weasels, 'hate most other life and delight in killing and torture' and are especially hateful towards the 'brownies pixies sprites and gnomes' which seems to cement them as the villains of the 'fey folk' of the sylvan wood.

They commonly wield clubs, axes and javelins, with short swords and spears being, I assume, the 'superior weapons' used by their leader types and guards. Since it's mentioned that their shields are made of wood or wicker, I assume some of their AC comes from that and perhaps dexterity and/or leather armor. Unlike goblins, they are not good miners (ironic, given that mythological kobolds had a strong association with mines) and all in all they seem less well-equipped than their other demihuman counterparts. With that in mind, 'Tucker's Kobolds' were a significant departure from the standard issue kobold found in the AD&D DMG, though that's not to say I disapprove, not at all. It seems even back in the 80's people were not content to leave Kobolds as merely 'lesser goblins.'

Sunset Realm Jackals
Despite his focus on dogs, he is called the Jackal God of Yuba, not the Dog God. This curious incongruity of the god is suspected by some to mean the Jackal God is some manner of ascended Jackal that forsook its own kind in favor of the company of humans and dogs, though if true, this event is so ancient that it does not even have religious tales of its occurrence.

Jackals are treated as dogs in Yuban religion, forbidding mistreatment of them but allowing reprimands if they act wickedly, but they remain undomesticated. Yet, their wildness is not the same as the moonlit chaos of the Wolf, but simply a dry and dusty indifference. Some sects of the religion say the distance between human and jackal is to be taken as a lesson- if humans were meant to know about jackals, the Jackal God would tell us, but he does not, therefore there are secrets of the kingdom of beasts that are not meant to be known.

Sunset Realm Jackalwere
Though any poor beast could become a whateverwere, the curse of being tainted with humanity does not make for a specific species, but an individual accursed monster, and such creatures are usually more of a blight on their host animal populations than on humans, just as werewolves are a menace to humans moreso than to wolves.

Sunset Realm Ki-Rin

This post took forever solely because I couldn't come up with a kobold image til now

Sunset Realm Kobold
In the ancient days of the wars between the Serpent Empire and the Reptile Kingdoms, through strange reptile sorcery, an unfertilized egg could be hatched into a small homunculus servant- a Kobold. Appearing similar to the lizard that donated blood to the ritual, these mini-mes were used as assistants and sometimes infiltrators. However, after the Reptile Kingdoms fell, their secrets were scavenged by the rest of the world. Elves would alter the ritual to create goblins from animal-shadows, and Dragons would use the ritual to create servile cults to attend to their needs.

Like goblins though, kobolds could ascend from 'conjured servitor' to 'independent life form,' and that is precisely what they did over the years. Those who were descended from abandoned reptile king servitors would often forget their origins across thousands of years, and believe themselves to be the same people who built the ruins around them (albeit somehow shrunken). Those who were descended from dragons who were slain or otherwise left their servitors behind often believed themselves to be the descendants of that dragon, and often sought to transcend their small forms either by biomancy or pyromancy.

These isolated cults of bygone lizards aside, the most common kobolds are the source of the word, from Cobalt or Blue. These are the kobolds of the Dragon-Empire of Bai-Szue, a tremendous and ancient blue dragon of the Fault, and interbreeding with remnant goblins, lizardfolk, and other Fault residents have given rise to a population of kobolds of varying levels of roundness of feature, coloration, cold or warm-bloodedness, vivi or oviparity and other assorted additional or missing features from the 'baseline model.' Due to the highly variable background, there are kobolds who are destitute thieves and kobolds who are exalted bureaucrats alike, and they make up at least a third of the population of this realm in all social strata, even the very top, which is of course reserved for the bloodline of Bai-Szue.

Second in size (both numbers and stature) are the red kobolds of Mantlehearth, a volcanic isle near Oroboro long ruled by the red Dragon Anyash Surtor, who left half dragon everythings behind, and the dragon blood, when mixed with the little people of the isle, resulted in a significant kobold populace. Efforts to ascend to full dragonhood by medical science or theurgic pyromantic investigations into the Undersun are both common.

Third are the green kobolds, also of the Fault, descended from the extensive green dragon family of the northwest. These kobolds are recent, and thus, are conjured goblinoid-type shadow-entities, who, not being truly alive, can be destroyed without incident on the Fault (where otherwise nothing properly dies, thanks to the efforts of Townlocke, Prophet of M'shesh the Mother of Undeath). These entities are merely manifestations of the will of green dragon sorcerors sending forth small minions to plunder the ancient dwarf-cities... but history shows this is unlikely to remain the extent of their existence for long, especially with the blue kobolds as a nearby model.

Fourthly are the Black Kobolds, derived from not the Reptile Kings or the Serpent Empire, but from the Froglords of Zaba, or more precisely, the acidic black dragons born of the Froglord wartime experiments, who in turn crafted Kobolds as servants after the dragons declared themselves the masters after the froglords were defeated. These are the source of the aforementioned 'ruin dweller' type kobolds, who, though an ancient people of the Wurderlands in their own right, are overly obsessed with the works of the bygone Froglords, in ironic contrast to the modern bipedal frogfolk who have forsaken both human and frog heritage in favor of simply living as best suits them.

White kobolds, like white dragons, are likely some manner of Winter Moon corruption of extant creatures rather than their own thing, or simply albinos. If any exist, the Auroral Reaches or the Moonlands would be likely locales.