Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cyclopean Sub-Types (Random Table/Any System)


Redon.cyclops
Le cyclope by Odilon Redon [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Not Just Any Cyclops...
  1. Slightly stooped, even bow-legged and nearly hairless, these cyclopes have curiously snoutish faces that end in a sharply curved turtle-like beak, granting them an additional (and wickedly effective) bite attack. Their skin is speckled, streaked and wrinkled like a turtle, and their fingers and toes all end in long, narrow claws that are slightly webbed, which they use to swim. While they cannot actually breathe underwater, they will only reluctantly move very far beyond the reach of whatever source of freshwater they currently lurk around. They cannot tolerate salt-water, it does some slight but persistent damage to them (1d4/turn for as long as they are exposed). Those of their number who are war-like will always carry a heavy, scale-encrusted shield, even if they rely on their fists or spells to fight. Non-combatants prefer to rely upon their swimming ability to carry them away from possible predators or those who would seek to harm them. In general, these cyclopes are peaceful, and have a semi-clannish culture that is dominated by basket-weavers and net-makers. Their baskets, nets and other such works are incredibly delicate and much sought after by merchants...but the cyclopes have no use for money, and insist upon bartering.
  2. Tall, shaggy and with twisty-curly horns jutting from their massive heads, these cyclopes have exceedingly pronounced brows that give them a grim, even taciturn countenance. They deliberately allow a special type of vine to wrap itself around their limbs, even going so far as to make small incisions so that the vines can send tendrils into their veins to acquire sustenance. It is a curious symbiosis. These huge beings move about the heavily forested slopes of their preferred territories silently, unseen and without attracting unwanted attention. They also craft incredibly large longbows and have set-out all manner of dead falls, pits and worse traps to deter intruders into their isolated valleys and plateaus.
  3. Short, spindly and dull ochre in over-all complexion, these diminutive cyclopes erect peculiar structures atop lonely hilltops. They are very, very old as a people, and seem to know most languages after listening to them only briefly, as they know the root-tongues of the primordial tribes, or at least that is what certain disreputable scholars have speculated. A persistent and beguiling theory that has led to countless expeditions to study these reclusive beings. So far no such group or individual intent on learning the secrets of these cyclopes has ever returned. Little more is known about them, though charlatans, frauds and liars have spun many an unlikely tale about the strange secrets reputed to be known by these beings, though no one knows what they are called. Even the oldest, boldest and crassest opportunists have never named these creatures. Yet.
  4. Heavily bearded and olive-complected, these cyclopes wear a great deal of intricately wrought jewelry and curiously articulated breastplates so encrusted with ornamentation as to be practically unwearable by anyone not able to lug around as much weight as they apparently can manage without encumbering themselves. Masters of working with amber, ivory and gold, these cyclopes craft incredibly rich items of ostentation and opulence that have attracted the avarice and greed of thousands of tyrants and despots. But these cyclopes do not care about such things. They care only for their craft and the mastery of their chosen materials. Violence and fighting mean nothing to them, though they are indeed physically powerful and capable of demolishing their opponents with weapons so beautiful they can make demi-gods weep in appreciation of the workmanship alone. Amongst themselves, these cyclopes do not compete in wrestling or brawling, instead they compete through their artistry and their works. And that is what makes them so dangerous--for a weapon to be truly beautiful, it must be put to use. So these beings who create such incredible things rely upon the lesser, far more vulgar and mentally-stunted races to put their latest creations to work in slaughtering one another.
  5. Hairy, smelly and brutish, these cyclopes have a single rather pronounced horn jutting outwards from their skull just above their one big eye. Their upper body is covered with a thick, pock-marked hide and their lower legs are those of a satyr or goat. Each hoof is the equivalent of a heavy mace when used to kick opponents, and a good stomp can be as effective as a battering ram against doors, walls and gates. They will use weapons, but most often prefer to rely upon their huge fists and whatever is easily to-hand, such as boulders or trees. These cyclopes generally cannot swim, but have been known to construct crude rafts. They will content themselves with wandering across the rocky defiles and cave-riddled hills of their homeland, tending flocks of goats, sheep and eloi, unless something -- or someone -- stirs them up and gets them agitated. Then they relentlessly hunt down their enemies with a single-mindedness that is both incredible and horrible to behold. They are implacable foes, some of whom rise from their graves to continue their vendetta against particularly hated opponents. These cyclopes know nothing of forgiveness, and much about vengeance.
  6. Mountain-dwellers who sing paeans to the wind and tempests in their incredibly deep voices, these cyclopes wield lightning as their preferred weapon of choice and manufacture hordes of brazen and other automatons that they send into battle ahead of them. They only deal with the lower, lesser races through emissaries and agents...but few can tell which of these are legitimate and what ones are duplicitous opportunists.
  7. Scaly and serpentine, these cyclopes grow fat and sluggish beneath the tumbled ruins of great stone cities that have long since been overgrown by the jungles and rain forests. Poisonous, wretched things, they lurk deep within the ruins of their palaces and mutter to themselves in sour tones. Accursed and cast down from the heights, they crawl through the dirt, dust and bones like the snakes they once enslaved. Now they are hunted by medusae and preyed-upon by the worms who claim the deeps. Serpent-men war once warred upon them, but that was long ago and they have mostly forgotten about these lingering remnants of an unfortunate age when these beings still walked upright as bloody-handed kings and queens who lorded it over vast armies of poison-deranged slaves driven mad by the cyclopes mind-destroying venom and addictive, soul-rotting spells.
  8. Crystal-boned oracles cursed to abandon the sun and embrace the darkness, these cyclopes are few in number these days. Aged and bent, wizened and ponderous in their movements, they remain incredibly clever in their bitterness and spiteful in their defeat. With elaborate patience they have slowly, carefully developed subtle plans against the forces that destroyed their empire long, long ago. But as with many of their efforts, perhaps they have been too subtle, waited for too long. Old now, mostly forgotten and relegated to obscurity and mythology, these cyclopes brood in their shadowed vaults and contemplate intricate strategies that may never see any real fruition beyond their descent into senility, dementia and impotent madness. Their blood is corrosive with the hatred they hold smoldering within them and their eyes have become glassy, gem-like spheres that reveal much to any who would risk harvesting one from among their deep, deep tombs. But anyone capable of seeing so much would undoubtedly take precautions against such things...so retrieving the smoldering eye of one of these cyclopes is an exceedingly dangerous undertaking. But as with all their kind, the cyclopes tend to be a bit one-track about things, and they lack true depth perception. A flaw that proved fatal to their old dominions when the so-called lesser races rose up against them. But to underestimate them is just as potentially fatal. Who knows what a few random incidents might make possible? Those who go rummaging about in the deep, dark places might unknowingly give one of these beings the opening they've long awaited...
  9. Richly robed with dense, heavily braided manes, these cyclopes wield elaborately inscribed spears and halberds that serve them as staves as well as thoroughly enchanted melee weapons. Makers of magical implements, these cyclopes have spent many long years learning the mechanics underlying myriad forms of magic and they use the insights and knowledge that they have gained from their studies to build impossible things. Where others of their kind once stood against celestial armies, fought the hosts of ancient gods and waged wars upon ultratelluric outsiders, these cyclopes withdrew from the worlds and focused on their studies, learning many secrets and developing terrifying sorcerous weapons that they sealed away in shimmering cysts to await the time and place they would make the difference, once and for all.
  10. Great and noble people, these cyclopes are well-known for their near immortality and handsome demeanor. Their flesh seemingly sculpted from the finest polished bronze, their hair a hundred tints of gold and amber and sunlight, they shine like the gods of old and they know it. Vain and lusty, innately magical beings, they often inter-breed with other races and beings. But for all the hybrid and half-breed offspring they have spawned, they raise none of them as their own. It is this irresponsibility on their part that has most often brought them to bloody, ruinous ends at the hands of their patricidal descendants who have grown up without any advantage but that granted by their blood and their wits as they grew up among those who feared them, reviled them and often hunted or tried to kill them in retaliation for any number of transgressions and wrongs perpetrated by the progenitors...

1 comment:

  1. These are amazing. I'm staggered you got so much into the table, not just a terse description, or a key characteristic, but also a setting for the central jewel.

    I love the sense of age and fine magics, and the impression of a slow fantastical evolution. The vine symbiosis is wonderful, and the idea of being too slow and subtle in the plotting as with no. 8, that time has moved on.

    I'd love to see more of this.

    ReplyDelete

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