D&D Creature of the Week- Quaggoth

Derek Holland

Like the vegepygmy I posted several months ago, the quaggoth is different between the first three editions. Their appearance and habitat haven't changed- furry humanoids that eat people found in the Underdark- but there have been some changes to their culture and stats.

In the 1e Fiend Folio they had 1+2 hit dice, were divided between the drow slaves and wild population, had immunity to poison, and a few bands had access to metal weapons (battle axes and two handed swords). There is no mention where they got the metal weapons from, but one can infer they were taken from humanoids slain for food. That or they were escaped slaves and took their weapons with them.

In the 2e Fiend Folio (and reproduced in the Monstrous Manual), their culture was given a lengthy description, they had 2+2 hit dice (3+3 for jarls, their leaders), retained their immunity to poison, raged when wounded and, most importantly, they gained psionic shamans call thonots. Thonots had the ability to heal, grow, shrink and use telekinetic powers like lighting fires. There was only a 30% chance that a band had a thonot so the psionic powers were rare, possibly like a blue (psionic goblins that pop up randomly). There is also mention of them degenerating from a major, very violent, civilization.

In the 3rd edition Monsters of Faerun, they lost thonots and their immunity to poison and gained another hit die (to 3). Their culture was simplified to two kinds of bands (those with weapons and those without), gained an immunity to fear and could rage. I don't get the loss of psionic powers as the Monster Manual has a few psionic powered critters, like illithids, that used spells for powers.

So what we have are extremely primitive humanoids that live underground, can be enslaved and taught to perform useful work, may or may not have psionic powers and have a diet that includes humanoids (and their own dead). They may have had an Aztec-like civilization in the distant past but now can barely use tools. In fact some refuse to do so.

So what broke them so badly that they gave up technology? It couldn't have been a simple defeat and overthrow of their empire, there had to be something more. Were they demon worshippers and their demonic gods cursed them for failure? Or were they victims of a race wide curse inflicted by Lolth or a duergar god? Could it be they were never very intelligent, something else propped them up and drove them to conquer? Aboleths work well behind the scenes as do some of the dragons found deep underground. When the quaggoth were defeated, the masters simply moved on to someone else (the rise and fall of kuo-toa?). Or were they some sort of psionic hivemind that fell apart when the population crashed? That could explain their almost insane behavior- the whispers of something in their heads. The few who master such thoughts become thonots, the only sane members of any band.

And why are they restricted to the Underdark? There is no reason they couldn't live on the surface, being active at night if their eyes can not quickly adapt to sunlight. It might be they are hunted every time they emerge, be elves who know what horrors these creatures can be. Or their curse may simply not allow them to come within X distance of the surface. Those who try either turn back without a thought on why, die or are transformed into something that eats quaggoths.

If a curse does exist, could it be broken? If so, what is the result? Raving people eaters coming up in waves or a return to a more intelligent, and possibly less violent, way for them? If they had a hivemind and it does return, what does that mean for illithids and aboleth? A elder brain is powerful, but could be crushed easily by something that inhabits the minds of tens of thousands to millions. Or could the curse be keeping them alive? If they become sane, their behavior changes in such a way that the other races easily destroy them.

The last question is if they are so crazy, how do the drow and other races control them? Magic is plentiful for drow but not that plentiful. And duergar are restricted to psionics rather than magic. Are they just acting insane, going bezerk at the drop of a pin, are they faking or is there something else going on? Something to keep in mind when you use quaggoths.