Wednesday, March 16, 2016


by Russ Nicholson
Severed heads hang suspended over a dead pond.  Blackened tubules hang from their torn necks, twisting against the wind.  And from their mouth comes a ragged howl, a constant exhalation without any inhalation.  A chorus of the damned.

And on the mouldering dock, a slouching figure in armor.  It does not speak, but joins its brethren above in their ungodly cacophany.

HD 2  AC leather  Bite 1d6
Fly 12  Int 10  Mor 7

<Howl> If three or more vargouille spend at least an hour howling, all creatures within 3 miles must make a save or become filled with dread (-4 vs fear unless you hide or leave the area) until the next morning.  Hirelings instead make a morale check, and will also refuse to approach if they fail.  Most vargouille groups will begin howling at sundown and will not stop until sunrise.

<Scream> As the fear spell in a 30' radius, usable once very 10 minutes.  (Creatures affected by fear take 1d6 non-lethal damage each round for the next 1d6 rounds, unless they spend their entire round hiding or fleeing.)  Creatures who make their save against the scream are immune to it for the rest of the day.

<Kiss> A vargouille can kiss a corpse automatically, or kiss a creature with a successful grapple check (Treat their Str as 14 when grappling).  Corpses immediately rise as a new vargouille, but living creatures who fail a save become afflicted by a magical disease.  Vargouillism: Lose 1d6 Cha per day, can cast fear once per day by screaming, detect as evil, if Cha reaches 0 you instantly die and your head becomes a vargouille with 50% of your memories and none of your personality nor values.

<Inhabit Corpse> A vargouille can reattach itself to the corpse that it spawned from and control it normally.  Treat the corpse as an undead level 3 fighter (at a minimum) that must be targeted and destroyed separately.  Vargouilles inhabiting corpses nearly always wear helmets (which gives them AC as plate), although they cannot fly while wearing helmets.  If a vargouille's corpse is destroyed, it is forever just a flying head; it cannot inhabit any other headless corpse.

from Krull

I want a monster that never ambushes you.  With vargouilles constantly howling, they will never be a total surprise.  They prefer to have you terrified than surprised.  Plus, there's a couple of interesting tasks built into this mechanic.

  • Get rid of whatever is making that horrible noise so we can investigate this other interesting thing in the same hex.
  • Get rid of whatever is making that horrible noise so that the hirelings will come into the dungeon with us.
We need more mechanics that fuck with hirelings and morale.

I love the screaming.  I want a monster that screams more.  I imagine them as capable of speech, but much preferring to scream over everything else.  Just constant engines of blasphemous noise.  They can talk while they scream: blasphemies, insults, sexual innuendoes.

Always screaming.  What are they screaming about?

The fact that they can scream without inhalation makes sense (they don't have lungs anyway), but it does bring them into conflict with the Priests of Endless Breath (Hesayan clerics who minister from Zulin, the Prince of the Upper Air), because they have that same ability.  And so vargouilles are seen as the most blasphemous of demons, since they imitate godliness (being able to shout without inhaling) and most are fond of saying horrible things.

Personally, I think that the ear-wings look stupid.  I much prefer vargouilles who climb through the ether by twisting their tentacles.

by Ayami Kojima
I love the sad vargouilles whose bodies have been destroyed.  They're just floating heads now.  And a group of vargouilles will likely include both the armor-puppet kind (who will attack with greatswords) and the flying head kind (who will attack with screams and kisses).

I wasn't a fan of the whole paralyze-you-then-kiss-you thing that vargouilles did.  I much prefer a vargouille wrapped around your neck like a scarf, screaming its corpse-breath into your eyes while it tries to make out with you.  Much more visceral.

And I also like the idea of vargouilles puppeting their corpses while clad in plate-mail.  It's a nice fusion of undead body + demon head.  And it also means that players might be surprised when they kill some death knight-smelling motherfucker and then the head pops off, screams, and flies away.

It also means that they might make suitable mooks for something even more horrible.

It could be a lich, a demonologist, a demon, a paladin of hell who has them bound to his oaths, or even a vargouille head manufactured from a giant's head, with terrible crushing teeth and new types of screams.

Don't forget to make them scream when they die.

Russ Nicholson again


  1. Nice, I'll be using these very soon.

    You mention them grappling as if Str14, I was curious if you have a set of grappling rules that you prefer. Seems like every rule set does it differently and I haven't found a favorite yet.

    1. Yeah, strength 14 wouldn't be great at grappling in the system I play.

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