Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Monsters of the Mythic Underworld, Part 2

 A while ago I wrote some monsters for the Mythic Underworld.  (See also Exultations of the Underworld at the bottom of this post.)

Basically the Underworld is actually Overhell.  Reality is hostile and distorted.  Dreams and dead things are sometimes real here.

Disposition and Reaction Rolls

I've started putting monster disposition in my statblocks (abbreviated as Dis) to give an overview of how monsters will react when encountered.  Roll a reaction roll on a d12, then consult the relevant table below (or just improvise).


  • 1-3 Attack, and will pursue further than normal.
  • 4-9 Attempt to drive you off, attacking if you don't.
  • 10+ Attempt to drive you off, but will not attack if you don't intrude further.


  • 1-3 Attack.
  • 4-9 Attack if party seems weak or hostile.  Possible chance for retreat.
  • 10+ Not hungry right now–but will be soon.  If approached: may flee or attack.


  • 1-3 Attack if you seem weak, steal if you seem dumb, beg otherwise.
  • 4-9 Steal if you seem dumb, beg otherwise.
  • 10+ Tries to strike up a bargain.


  • 1-3 Will try to cheat you.
  • 4-9 Will only try to cheat you a little.  If odd: have a small quest for you.
  • 10+ Discounts!  Limited time only.  Reason: desperate / they like you / common enemy.


  • 1-3 Attack.  Reason: protecting something / desperation / honor / mistaken identity.
  • 4-9 Hostile parley.  Will attack unless you: leave immediately / surrender money / surrender.
  • 10+ Parley.  They want something: information / assistance / supplies.  


  • 1-3 Attack.  Reason: protecting something / desperation / honor / mistaken identity.
  • 4-9 Parley.  They want: information / assistance / supplies / to sell their services.
  • 10+ Benevolence.  They want to help in some small way.


  • 1-3 Attack.  On a 1, attack without any regard for its own well-being.
  • 4-9 If you seem weak: attack.  If you seem far too strong: flee and seek aid.  Parley otherwise.
  • 10+ Not hostile at the moment.  Possible reasons: tired / scared / disgruntled / wounded.


  • 1-3 Shun.  If you don’t leave, they’ll leave.  Reason: disgust / fear / dislike / you are bad.
  • 4-9 Small assistance.  Limited in duration and degree. Shares information.  Asks questions.
  • 10+ Large assistance.  As above, except will probably want to come with you.

Underworld Monsters

Note: if a stat is not mentioned, assume that it is human-like.  

Zolliphar’s Voice
LvlDef none  Grab
Move slow  Int low  Dis guardian

Looks like a giant slinky, 7 feet tall, made from coins and glass.  If killed, it shatters into a heap of broken glass and 1d100 silver coins.

Zolliphar’s Curse - Immune to slashing and piercing.  Half damage from all other magic types.  All bludgeoning damage reduced by 5.  Shatters immediately if it falls at least 10’, or if it falls down stairs.  It can be shoved with a normal combat maneuver.

Grab - a Zolliphar’s Voice moves like a slinky.  When it grabs you, it traps you inside it’s body.  It then stretches floor-to-ceiling in order to lock itself in place, and begins vibrating and casting light and making a series of strange chiming sounds.

In this position, an ally can “bend the bars” (difficult Str check) to allow a trapped person to escape.  If it has no ceiling to brace against within 15’, it can be pushed over (easy Str check).

If a trapped person is still inside the Zoliphar’s Voice afterwards, they will vanish in a flash of light.  (They have been teleported to a random, non-secret room of the dungeon.)

NOTE: this is a reskinned version of the Zephyrus from the first Underworld Monster post, which itself was a reskinned version of the wallmaster from Zelda.

A Clobstrok from the Book of Mice
I drew this!
LvlDef medium  Claw 1d6
Move slow  Climb spider  Int low  Dis hungry

Looks like the picture above, except it's now more disk-like than the last time.

Heavy Shell - half damage from slashing and piercing.

Flying Crab - If they are at least 10’ above, and 10’ away from their target, they can launch themselves up to 100’ away like bladed frisbees, +4 bonus to hit and dealing 1d8 damage.  If the area is large enough (at least 30’ by 30’) they can remain airborne, and will prefer to circle.  In this circumstance, they will stay in the air, and can only be struck by ranged weapons.  If someone wants to ready an attack against them, they’ll have to wait until the clobstrok attacks, and then both attacks are made simultaneously.

LvlDef low  Claw 1d6+paralysis
Dis hungry

Looks like a ghoul.

Paralysis - Struck target is paralyzed if they fail a Con save.  A paralyzed target takes 1d4 damage on its next turn if it takes any actions (as their muscle fibers tear).  The turn after that, the damage drops to 1d4-1 (min 0).  The turn after that, it drops to 1d4-2 (min 0).  After that, it ends.

Varghoul Surprise -  When a varghoul takes damage, the head flies off and attacks independently, taking half of the remaining HP with it.

Varghoul Head
Lvl Def low  Bite 1d4+attach
Fly bat Dis hungry

Attach - as stirge.

Lvl 4  Def low  Trample 1d8, 50' line
Int low  Dis hungry

Looks like an undead cow.

Varghoul Surprise - When a vargomere takes damage, the head flies off and attacks independently, followed by two more (humanoid) heads from the rib cage.  The Varghoul Head has 3 HP.  The two regular heads each have 1 HP.  The body retains the remaining HP.

by Tony Diterlizzi

Trolls in the Underworld

Trolls are very common in the Underworld.

Green Trolls 

The cruelest of their kin, green trolls are usually in dungeons because it’s a good place to hunt and eat people.  Green trolls are famous for their cruelty and predation.  They’re common lieutenants.

Or more rarely, a troll is dismembered and scattered into a subterranean location with lots of food.  Since each piece of a green troll is a complete green troll, you can come back a few months later and have lots of young trolls (Levels 2-3) to collect.  

Sometimes this happens spontaneously, when an mature green troll is killed and eaten by something larger–lots of shredded troll bits (1 inch tall, the size of a hand, etc) eventually calve off from the mostly-eaten corpse.

Rock Trolls 

If there are no nice rocks to eat, there will be no rock trolls.  If there are nice rocks to eat, you may run into a rock troll.

Rock trolls are like shepherds to their flocks of rocks.  In natural caverns, they'll usually have herds of stones, for both companionship and meat.  It's pretty easy to herd rocks, since they don't move on their own very often, but just the same you'll sometimes see a rock troll urging his herd to a new pasture.  Perhaps this location became too wet, or perhaps it is time to find new members.

Rocks in a herd vary in size from pebbles to boulders.  When animated by an elder rock troll, they amble about as quickly as a pokey pony.  And like pokey ponies, they sometimes get lost.  

On rare occasions, you'll find rock trolls enchanted by someone who has a big shiny gemstone.  All you need to enchant a rock troll is to wave a fist-sized gem in front of their face.  You don't even need to know magic.

Shaggy Trolls (Longtail Trolls)

Shaggy trolls are friends to Zulin, and at least one has a seat at his table.    Because of this favor, Zulin upholds their oaths, and so promises made in front of a shaggy troll are especially binding.  And while they are very clever, shaggy trolls sometimes lose their riddle challenges or drinking contests.  As a result, they sometimes find themselves bound in service for 7 years and 7 days (to give one example).  When this happens, they may end up in the dungeon.

When acting as a guardian, shaggy trolls wield their giant rattle-maces (made from giant walnuts filled with black beans) and ride tops into battle, balancing on a single toe while resting on their heel in sitting tree pose.

These are different from their typical giant rattles, and typically cast mirror image - hole - soften metal

There is a decent chance that these trolls are accompanied by their spouse.  Roll a d6:

1-3    Not married
4        Human.  "I'm not here to fight, I'm just waiting for this stupid oath to be done."
5        Shaggy Troll.  "I'm not here to fight, I'm just waiting for this stupid oath to be done."
6        Shaggy Troll.  "I'm not here to fight."  (Will totally join the fight.)

Multiple Types of Trolls

As a general rule, the three species of trolls don't get along very well together.  If a green troll and a shaggy troll encounter each other, there's a good chance it ends in violence, but a 0% chance that it ends with someone dying.

This is because all trolls share a common ancestry (of sorts), and all trolls honor the Trollfather.  

Even though green trolls hate shaggy trolls, they'll still shelter them if they are seriously wounded.  And if a troll is killed unjustly, expect other trolls to avenge them, even if they are of a different species.


  1. Based on the implied lore of the band, Finntroll, I call the progenitor of trollkind "Rivfader" in my low fantasy games.

  2. On the zoliphar's voice section, just after the stats, the first sentence looks cut off.