Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dolmenwood by the Dozen: Berenski and the Beetle-Gnomes

Next up is Berenski, located by Ransom Creek in a rotted out wreckage of an inn he makes his home in. Also included are 30 weird grubs which can grow up to be common fauna beetles, and a very simple gambling system based on making them fight.

Berenski the Beetle Farmer
HD 2 (8 hp), AC 10, Att: By Weapon (Hornwood Cudgel 1d6/1d8 when greased),  Ml 10, Mv 120’ (40’), Al N, XP 25.

Berenski, the Beetle Farmer
On the banks of Ransom Creek, lives a man in the burnt out inn formerly known as the Boastful Hearth. While he’s made repairs to the structure, he’s used mostly rotten waterlogged timbers and pine boughs; giving the entire place a damp and dreary feeling. Which is all the same to the man known as Berenski, as he seems to prefer it that way because the moisture attracts all manner of beetles in delightful colors.

Berenski is a strange man in his fifties, who has seen a life of conflict and has decided to retire from it in a rather unusual way. He has a single lock of wheat blond hair, which he claims is so that should he die on a battlefield an angel might yank him out of the muck. He has a long mustache that could likely touch his nipples if he didn’t bind it and braid it up tight with slathered hog’s grease. He doesn’t wear a shirt, and his pantaloons are of a thick blue-black leather embellished with patterns of caterpillars and grubs. Berenski has a gap in his teeth and makes wheezing whistles when excited or exasperated.

He uses a hornwood cudgel, knotted and ugly, but lacquered daily with fine yellow oils. Berenski wipes the excess off in his chest hair and uses it to slick back his bangs, often while cooking or before he shakes hands with a stranger. He laughs abrasively when he knows he’s made people uncomfortable, which is to say he laughs often.

As such most don’t enjoy his company, and in truth his only real friends are a moss dwarf traveler named Hogum who spends his winters in the soggy old inn, and the beetle-gnomes who have turned Berenski on to a most vicious sport of grub-tumbling. And while the bandits and woodcutters of the nearby forest don’t much like Berenski they are interested in the fey coinage he trades in, and how he claims that they’re payment for being a “master of coaching beetle boys to be at their beetliest in battle.”

Because of this a few woodsfolk have been willing to put up with his musty home and greasy toast and tea in exchange for learning what they need to do to win a payout of such coinage. Berenski is ecstatic about the nearby humans wanting to break bread with him, but the beetle-gnomes know the greed in the hearts of such men. They will allow the grub-tumbling to be performed by outsiders so long as they remain fair; but should any try to rob Berenski, they will face an itching and skittering hell.

The walls of the Boastful Hearth are run ragged with all manner of grubs and beetles which drone lowly all through the night. Berenski makes a fine stirfry out of losing grubs and mushrooms, and he uses the peeled shells of beetles to make fey armor for his beetle-gnome friends who enter the Boastful Hearth by way of a rotted out Cuckoo Clock that leads into the Otherwold.

Grub-Tumbling
As a mini-game for gambling purposes, the system is rather simple. Types of beetle larvae have different statistics associated with them, denoted as a d6 or a static added on bonus. When two grubs have a tumble, the pool of d6 are rolled and bonuses are added to the total. Whoever has the highest amount wins. The payout rate is the difference between dice pools and bonuses to one. So if a grub had a 3d6+2 and was going up against a 2d6 grub, the payout would be 1-to-3 ratio; with the weaker grub paying out 3 times the amount gambled on.

All grubs are from innocuous enough species from the Dolmenwood. Berenski knows too well what a rot grub looks like from his time at war, and he will act violently towards anyone who’d bring a nightworm into his home and claiming it is a grub.

Berenski generally has grubs and beetles from Brackenwold and the Dregwood, but he will occasionally offer up a rare or exotic type at random. Assume those to be rare cases or brought by the beetle-gnomes as pets. Berenski will pay a gold coin for any bug he’s never seen before. To determine grubs, roll on the following chart.

Table 1: Larval Grubs
d30
Species
Grub Dice
Region
Description
1
Pineneedler Fly
1d6
Brackenwold
Mucus-green bloated slug-like larvae that is a collection of hundreds of larval nymphs in a fluid sack that moves with hive mind instinct. Sticky and slightly acidic trail of slime. Adults are tiny green flies the size of pine needles.
2
Briarmouther
1d6
Brackenwold
Broad-toothed larvae that is rather inflexible and rigid. Teeth can clip through roots and thorns with ease, but not very useful against grub flesh. Beetles are thorny-looking pincer bugs with speckled wings.
3
Duke's Royal Tulipgrig
1d6
Brackenwold
Pudgy pink larvae with yellow spurs and a green head. Can eat most poisonous material, and generally bloat themselves on nectar and pollen. Adults are fat multi-colored grasshoppers that chirp out lovely tunes.
4
Hamwurther's Aphid
1d6
Brackenwold
A fat, round, roly grub with tiny crab-like legs which smells of sweat and feces. Small mouth, but can shoot out its stomach and pull in prey. Adults are annoying grey stink beetles that fly loudly into fires and pop.
5
Bloodhowler
1d6
Brackenwold
Armored grub that camouflages with brittle tree bark. Has a red head with thick pincers for gripping and piercing, but only eats sap. Adults look much the same but make tree sap-suckle spots run red, and they whistle mating tunes on the winds.
6
Sprouthopper
1d6
Northern Scratch
Segmented worm of teal, exceptionally small but with a pronged set of horns on its head which it jabs with until it feels securely in place. Adults are marsh-dwelling false dragonflies which must leap from reed to reed, they come in all manner of colors.
7
Fraggweevil
1d6
Dregwood
Hairy ugly hooked-nose grub with hundreds of tiny legs. By no means strong, but incredibly spiteful and vicious. Beetles are ugly looking wood-weevils which carve foul spiral patterns into tree trunks, a delicacy to wood-grue.
8
Druneshood Orchid Hornet
1d6
Drunic Interior
Off-sapphire worm with pointed segments that resemble the hoods of the Drune, banded in yellow much like their torcs. Adults are solitary hornets which form secretive lairs in old stumps, often harvested by the Drune for paper-making.
9
Mimicworm
1d6
Nag-Lord's Kingdom
An off-flesh colored waxy long-worm with a malformed human face and bulging eyes, it can shift its flesh to emulate parts from other animals but they are vestigial and doughy. No known adults have ever survived the pupa stage.
10
Vogul's Staghorn
2d6
Brackenwold
Flexible and plump grub with a horned head and many stout green legs. It is covered in fuzz like down on an antler. As a beetle it is a lichen-patterned horned beetle that eats other pests.
11
Thicket Spurbeetle
2d6
Brackenwold
Rough three-tailed grub covered in small chitinous spurs for defense, feasts on sap and xylem waters. As a beetle it resembles a bundle of thorny brambles or a small hornet's nest run through with thorns.
12
Laughing Pondneedle
2d6
Brackenwold
A grinning fey head with a long upturned nose attached to the body of some sort of shrimp, it has a clever cunning unbefitting of insects. As an adult it is fey-faced midge fly that fornicates and dies laughing within a day.
13
Sodgnawer
2d6
Northern Scratch
Leech-looking thick grub coated in orifices and gnashing tiny flat teeth, squirms through rotting wood to make digestible nutrients for itself. Adult forms look much the same but have many tiny legs so they might climb into living trees too.
14
Growling Toadfly
2d6
Northern Scratch
Fat false-tadpole looking grub, complete with camouflage patterns that allow it to look like the head of a frog peeking up out of the water. Sticky flesh around its mouth help it hunt. Adults look like a frog from above, but resemble more closely a garden beetle.
15
Blackprig Biter
2d6
Northern Scratch
Wide-eyed and needle-mouthed long grub with six tiny nubs that serve as rudders in water. It feasts on blood. Adults resemble palm-sized toe biter water bugs of black coloration, with a slight anesthetic quality to their bites.
16
Dungwallow Beetle
2d6
Dregwood
Two-mouthed translucent grub that seems all too skilled at rolling itself into a ball and maneuvering items in its environment around as it sees fit. Adults are a speckled brown in color and are often found wallowing in feces.
17
Woseworry Beetle
2d6
Dregwood
Wrinkly four-legged grey grub that remains still to avoid notice, and while not predatory, have a corrosive saliva meant for gnawing through trees. Adults are black beetles capable of causing pine blights and greater wood rot.
18
Duskweller Moth
2d6
Dregwood
A furry twilight-blue colored grub with a face as white and speckled as a full moon, which when it rears up on its back legs, can confuse and hypnotise prey. Adults are fist-sized moths that flutter about during dusk and autumn twilight.
19
Elfshrieker
2d6
Drunic Interior
Bright copper-gold larvae with two large scythe-like claws that allow it to scramble and crawl. Adult Elfshriekers emerge from the underground once a decade, shed a silvery exoskeleton, and drone their death songs. Elfs hate the sound.
20
Cockchaffa
3d6
Nag-Lord's Kingdom
Phallic-looking grubs with a ring of teeth in the "urethra", unfortunately hairy towards the back of the body. Anus also has teeth. Adult form is a milky white roach with bristly black hairs.
21
Phalanx Beetle
3d6
Brackenwold
Powerfully girthy and with armored heads, the Phalanx Beetle larvae makes use of its environment to defend itself and bludgeon any threats to death. Adult Phalanx Beetles are a regal red-carapaced beetle with a long grey horn.
22
Night-Moth
3d6
Brackenwold
Vaguely wyrm-looking in appearance due to extreme camouflage, the Night-Moth larvae is deadly to lesser creatures due to how it fades in and out of the corporeal realm, often impaling creatures or feasting on their dream stuff. Their moth forms are the stuff of folktale.
23
Ugulthawurm
3d6
Northern Scratch
Disgustingly thick and nearly a foot long, these cyclopean worms spend most of their time in torpor unless prodded or attacked. They coil around and crush their enemies. Adults are a particularly vile sort of giant centipede with a necrotic bite, found in the Fever Marsh.
24
Fauxstirge
3d6
Northern Scratch
A long-nosed black furred grub with two red spots it'd have you think are eyes. The Fauxstirge is not stirge larvae proper, it just looks that way to fool predators. Its mouth is on its underside and it is rung with many rows of teeth. It is a bottom feeder.
25
Saberfly
3d6
Dregwood
A segmented grub with pedipalps that curve like blades, it has a whip-like appendage on its tail that it brushes around to get a feel of its surroundings. As an adult, it is a mostly blind type of hornet that eats spiders and small voles.
26
Wengelfurr
3d6
Dregwood
A disgustingly hairy grub which looks like someone peeled off a goat's knee flesh, has many hooked teeth. Adult form is a predatory moth that eats mice and often bites campers while they sleep, but they are easily caught and goatman like their taste.
27
Lapis Moss Scarab
3d6
Nag-Lord's Kingdom
Solid blue translucent worm that appears to be made of living latticework and soft stone. It is possessed of latent Chaos energies which can kill lesser vermin around it. Adult forms are blue moss-coated beetles which burrow under flesh to reproduce.
28
Jaelbug
4d6
Nag-Lord's Kingdom
Many-eyed and fanged grub of rough stone and bone, it seizes around humming insanely and gnawing at whatever it can. It is Chaos energy made manifest as rock. Adult forms look like such a grub shoved inside a box turtle's shell.
29
Braithwhistler
4d6
Drunic Interior
Large star-faced grub with a golden head and a white body with blond locks of hair. It hunts by wrapping around its prey, "kissing" it with its mouth, and whistling at a frequency that makes many vermin burst in pain. Adults are large locusts of similar color who whistle to find mates.
30
Wermingshroot
5d6
Northern Scratch
A cursed violet worm that looks like a man's intestines wrenched from his gut. It has a hooked mouth and enjoys eating bits of meat. Adult Werminshroots look much like lobsters with horrid hook-toothed heads, the bite of which is said to make a man sterile.

There is a 1-in-10 chance that any grub Berenski picks out will have a conditioner which grants it a static bonus to the rolls. If a woodgrue, moss dwarf, beetle-gnome, or someone knowledgeable in bug lore goes hunting for bugs the chance increases to 6-in-10.

Table 2: Conditioners
d10
Condition
Bonus
1
Larger than Normal.
+1
2
Strong Bite.
+1
3
Slimy Skin.
+1
4
Rough Skin.
+1
5
Survivor.
+1
6
Thick Armor.
+2
7
Vicious Bite.
+2
8
Pungent Taste.
+2
9
Touched by the Fey.
+3
10
Born in the Blood of Heroes.
+3

Beetle-gnomes
HD 2 (10 hp), AC 8, Att: By Weapon (Tiny Spears 1d4),  Ml 12, Mv 150’ (50’), Al N, XP 30. No. Appearing: 1d4+1 HD3 Leader (with a beard of ticks). Each beetle-gnome by this statline is a group of 1d4, the Leader itself is a war-hero of the beetle-gnomes and as powerful as one and a half groups of such gnomes all by his lonesome self. 
Beetle-gnomes are cute.
I totally forgot where I found this image.
Beetle-gnomes are a lesser faerie race that lives in subterranean hovels in the soil between the mortal world and the Otherwold. They are about the size of a long carrot or a yam, rarely ever more than a foot tall, and they are of a dark violet color. They wear helmets of bone, scrimshawed and gnawed with patterns by beetles and grubs, and in times of war they garb themselves in armor made from beautiful chitinous shells.

The beetle-gnomes who enjoy the company of Berenski for whatever reason, are devoted to making sure that his enjoyment of beetles is not ended by brigands or bandits too quickly. Should Berenski’s life be put in peril, they can transform any grubs into Rot Grubs, Giant Carnivorous Beetles, or into giant grubs which should use the stats of a Giant Ant. A grub that has a conditioner bonus should add that bonus to its total HP. Each group of gnomes may transform a single grub into a new entity.

The coins of the beetle-gnomes which Berenski gambles with and pays out to winners are made of electrum and stamped with the faces of ancient kings in miserable or hilarious demeanor. Berenski only has 3d10+40 electrum on him at any one time, locked away in a strongbox hidden beneath the floorboards under his bed. The money is often coated in grubs, which the gnomes will turn into rot grubs if they are forced to.




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