Saturday, December 5, 2020

Kalikantzaroi: Just Use Goblins!

Although one of my favorite parts of game and worldbuilding is making interesting monsters for players to encounter, talk to, fight, or otherwise experience, I really really appreciate the ideas behind things like "Just Use Bears" or the "Just Use Goblins" series of posts over on d4 Caltrops. So here is an example of that (namely just use goblins), for the King of Kings setting!

Stats as goblin, except:

Fastidious Counters: Kallikantzaroi are compelled to count anything in front of them, which leaves them trapped while they count the holes in a colander, grains of rice, or the individual strands of a broom.
Mundane Damage Immunity: Can only be harmed by magical attacks.
Nocturnal: Kallikantzaroi only come out at night and dwell in darkness. They have infravision and have an aversion to light sources, especially the sun.
Turning: Despite being often hostile spirits, kallikantzaroi are not unclean spirits for purposes of clerical turning (i.e. they cannot be turned by clerics).
Uncanny Conversationalists: Kallikantzaroi will oftentimes try to strike up conversation with those they meet at night. They are able to imitate almost any noise, and will often draw people out to ask them questions. If they do not answer the question with the word "black", the kallikantzaros will put them under a supernatural charm (save vs. spell to resist).
Weaponry and Armor: Kallikantzaroi typically wield axes and sawblades, and often wear chainmail clothing.

In the real world, kallikantzaroi are goblin-like spirits in the folklore of the Balkans and northeastern Turkey, typically depicted as horrible little dark things with animal features such as donkey ears, boar tusks, and goat legs. In the folklore of Christian countries in the region they typically come out during Christmas time, called the "unbaptized days" in Serbia, in Greece Christmas being the only time that the kallikantzaroi can take a break from cutting through the base of the world tree (allowing it to heal before they come back down on Epiphany (Jan 6th)). I kind of took influence from multiple countries' interpretations of the kallikantzaroi in making the above, albeit getting rid of any overt references to Christian holidays or specific patterns of which days they can come up to the surface to terrorize people. Rather, the kallikantzaroi in King of Kings dwell underground or in isolated abandoned locations, and only venture out at night to terrorize people in the countryside. 

Since they are spirits, they of course cannot be harmed by mundane weaponry. I think this makes them a much more formidable enemy than being a typical goblin stats-wise would imply, since while yes they have low HP in comparison to other monsters, actually dealing damage to that HP is a bit of a different question. It is much easier for lower level characters to just scare them off with their torches, although they will do everything in their power to try and put them out.

I don't really think I need much of an in-setting description for this one, at least at the moment. They are fairy tale esque goblins, I think plenty is communicated by the modifications made to the normal goblin stats and just looking at the original folklore. But here's an idea: how about I communicate some of what I think about these creatures in King of Kings using a table of encounter activities (I know, blatantly stealing from d4 caltrops again, but whatever).

So, without further ado, here are d30 things that the kallikantzaroi may be doing when encountered!
1: Feverishly chopping away at a tree with their axes, the air filled with giggling as woodchips fly everywhere.
2: Desperately trying to count all of the leaves on a tree but they keep on having to start back over again.
3: Torturing a small mammal by slashing at the ground when it tries to move.
4: Sitting on top of a pile of rice after having counted the whole thing.
5: Eating all of the fruit off of a tree to leave it barren.
6: Pissing into a well for the nearest settlement.
7: Tearing off every individual needle off of a pine tree.
8: Repeatedly stabbing a poor bird that has been dead for what seems like quite some time.
9: Reading poetry backwards to a number of lizards and rodents.
10: Chopping away at the legs of a horse that they have charmed with the sound of neighing.
11: Keeping a peasant ensnared where they stand with the imitated voice of a loved one.
12: Talking among themselves about the best way to chop at the beams which hold a house up.
13: Loudly ringing bells and imitating wolf howling to bother the people in the area.
14: Trapped counting the bristles of some brooms, wondering out loud where the person they were just talking to went.
15: Slapping the ground with a switch made from tree branches, chastising the world for allowing suffering to take place but snickering between sentences.
16: Throwing stones at birds and squirrels to torment them.
17: Gnawing on unidentifiable bones with bones and sticks strewn about them.
18: Twisting a blade back and forth inside of someone's back, looking closely as they writhe in pain.
19: Playing with birds that they have snatched up, pretending to fly with the birds in their hands.
20: Screaming. Just imitating the sounds of strained screaming.
21: Telling each other very unfunny jokes that they find incredibly hilarious.
22: Sitting on top of a fallen tree trunk, gazing at the horizon.
23: Drinking the blood of a sleeping animal.
24: Tearing up grass and leaves and dancing while throwing them up into the air.
25: Playing with a dead snake, but completely ignorant of the fact that it is dead.
26: Trying to keep up a conversation with someone who died right in front of them, increasingly getting angry with the lack of response.
27: Sitting atop a signpost, gesturing at passers-by with their weaponry and asking them probing personal questions.
28: Gnawing at the base of a tree and spitting up bits of bark every so often.
29: Playing a little game of ball with an animal or human skull.
30: Riding a goat around, giggling wildly as they dash around this way and that.

1 comment:

  1. These are great! I'm so glad my Goblin Project managed to inspire! I'll have to figure out a way to use these somehow, I love monsters inspired by folklore because they carry so much mythological weight around with them! :)