'Polaris' (H.P. Lovecraft d20)

Michael O. Varhola

In the very short story "Polaris," H.P. Lovecraft's sixth published work, the author describes a city menaced by two species of humanoid creature. One is " the Inutos; squat, hellish, yellow fiends who ... were mighty in the arts of war" and the other is "the hairy, long-armed, cannibal Gnophkehs." As someone who develops material for traditional fantasy role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, the first thing that struck me is that these sound uncannily like Goblins and their large, hirsute cousins, Bugbears! (With regard to the Inutos, Lovecraft is much less generous of spirit, and identifies them as the primordial ancestors of the "Esquimaux.") In further development of the Gnophkehs by Lin Carter and Clark Ashton Smith they are still compatible with Bugbears, and I have, accordingly, created a polar version of them for this entry.

 

Gnophkeh: Medium Monstrous Humanoid (Arctic); CR 3; HD 4d8+12; hp 30; Init +1; Spd 30 ft. (6 squares); AC 18 (+1 Dex, +4 Natural, +3 Hide Armor), touch 6, flat-footed 19; Base Atk +4, Grp +8; Atk +8 melee (1d12+6/x3, greataxe) or +7 melee (1d8+4/x3, battleaxe) or +5 ranged (1d4+4, light hammer); Full Atk +8 melee (1d12+6/x3, greataxe) or +7/+6 melee (1d8+4/x3, battleaxe, and 1d4+2/x4, light pick) or +5 ranged (1d4+4, light hammer) ; SQ Darkvision 60 ft., Scent; AL NE; SV Fort +4, Ref +5 Will +4; Str 19, Dex 12, Con 17, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 9.

 

Gnophkehs are an arctic subspecies of Bugbear that are not just shaggier, tougher, and more depraved than their temperate cousins but have actually been mutated by their hostile environment and worship of unhallowed beings. They relish the flesh of other humanoids and, while humans are their preference, in a pinch they will eat their own Goblin minions or even one of their own that has fallen in battle. They are devoted to the  feared and hated wind god Ithaqua.

 

Climb +7, Hide +4, Listen +2, Move Silently +4, Smell +9, Spot +2, Survival +6. A Gnophkeh receives a +4 racial bonus on Climb and Move Silently checks, and on Hide, Move Silently, and Survival checks made in an arctic environment (reflected in the above under the assumption that is where they will be encountered so adjust accordingly if not).

 

Feats: Alertness, Weapon Focus (Battle Axe), Two-Weapon FightingB.

 

COMBAT

Gnophkehs eschew the use of shields, as they prefer to leave their hands free for climbing around the broken terrain of their homelands, scaling the walls of their victim's fortications, and the like. They generally fight with both two-handed weapons and with weapons in each hand -- various sorts of axes, picks, and hammers being their preference -- and tend to wear armor made from the hides of various arctic beasts.

As members of the Arctic subtype, Gnophkehs take only half damage from any cold damage dealt to them. They also receive a +5 bonus on Fortitude saves from natural cold dangers and they are treated as if wearing cold weather gear. As Arctic creatures, Gnophkehs suffer a –4 penalty to all Fortitude saves against natural heat dangers.