Awnshegh

From 1d4chan

The awnshegh, plural awnsheghlien, which literally means "Blood of Darkness" in elfish, are an extremely broad category of monster in Cerilia, the Birthright campaign setting.

Within the setting, a being can be a "blooded" or "blood scion," possessed of supernatural power from fragments of the old gods. The oldest of these old gods was Azrai, the god of lies and darkness whom all the others sacrificed themselves to destroy permanently, and those blooded by Azrai's power often find themselves warped in body, mind, and soul, which is only fitting for a wicked god obsessed with "improving" on the natural order and the progenitor of all beastmen.

An "awnshegh" is a being who was once a scion of Azrai that was twisted out of humanity by their dark power, committed bloodtheft (stealing the power of a blood scion with a deathblow to the heart) on a scion of Azrai, or simply had a particularly strong awnshegh parent. They take a variety of forms, some humanoid, some not. Some were once ordinary people, some were once animals, and some are just fucking weird.

Now, having the blood of Azrai doesn't necessarily make you a villain in and of itself. Indeed, some awnsheghlien aren't even necessarily bad people in their own right. But, the dark power of the Lord of Chaos resists being used responsibly, and while not all of them are evil, most of them are, and none are truly good. (Well, okay, the Banshegh sort of is, but Justina Heughlou is barely an awnshegh.) At the same time, though, many of them are tragic figures: while not all of them struggle with and fight their dark urges, a lot of them are what they are as a result of hard luck rather than bad choices and never asked to be twisted into inhuman monstrosities, and some fight to retain what shreds of their humanity are left.

Awnsheghlien take the place of most "common" monsters in a normal D&D setting. Rather than entire races of monstrous foes for parties to slay for loots, a given awnshegh is a unique, powerful creature, much like the monsters of mythology. Some awnsheghlien produce lesser "spawn" races, either by sexual or asexual reproduction, creating henchmen for parties to fight. And, of course, just like any other scion, awnsheghlien can take up Holdings, bonding to the land and twisting it with their dark power, gaining strength and potency from expanding or cultivating their territory.

Awnsheghlien, being unique and powerful antagonists, have access to powerful blood abilities, including their signature, Azrai-exclusive "bloodform" power, which physically twists the user in accordance with their inner nature as they use their blood powers or gain new ones in a manner beyond the user's control. Azrai's bloodline also has access to lots of good offensive and defensive swag, such as Regeneration and the Invulnerability power, which literally makes it impossible for the user to die unless killed in a specific and unique fashion... and some mysterious awnsheghlien don't have listed means of putting them down for the count.

They were detailed in the Blood Enemies: Abominations of Cerilia sourcebook, which was presented at least partly as an in-universe text reported to the reader by a sage, one who actually compiled lists of research, and even interviews with some of the more-sapient and negotiable ones. As a result, some of its information is fairly incomplete. Others were expanded upon in specific realmbooks, such as the Kraken, most of whose information appears in Havens of the Great Bay.

There's also a benevolent counterpart to the awnsheghlien called the ehrshegh (ehrsheghlien for the plural), which means "blood of light," though they are generally less common and prominent. The "bloodtrait" power non-Azrai bloodlines possess is something voluntary and controllable, so there's no such thing as an ehrshegh being irreversibly and unwillingly transformed into a hideous monster. Just as an awnshegh isn't necessarily evil, so too is an ehrshegh not necessarily good, though, again, there's a bit of a correlation there.

The Apocalypse[edit]

A mysterious, evil cloud, which drifts over the land, in which a hungry bearded face with pointed teeth sometimes appears, sucking the blood and life out of settlements it falls over. It may have been created when a town suffering from a mysterious plague was torched, and thus caused what was once a magical disease to become an atmospheric vampire, or it may, according to an unreliable corpse interrogated under the effects of speak with dead, be the literal breath of Azrai searching for his body. Either way, it's almost impossible to harm by any means (it's not technically immune to magic weapons, but it doesn't even have a listed AC or HP total), and those it comes into contact with it have their blood and life essence sucked out and begin rotting alive over the course of days unless they're given simultaneous remove curse and dispel magic spells. A pretty creepy monster, but not super usable except as an obstacle for a lord to have to try to deal with.

The Banshegh[edit]

No, I didn't misspell it. The Banshegh is the first of the more interesting and complex of the awnshegh on this list. By day, Justina Heulough is a just, fair, wise elven noble ruler over her largely human domain in the Mountains of the Silent Watch, and not to put too fine a point on it, an absolutely gorgeous, fuckable woman with a lovely personality, who's done a great job of running the place since her human husband died thirty years ago. By night, the Banshegh rises from her sleeping body and terrorizes her domain and her neighbors, looking like a spectral, translucent blue version of her and appearing in the dreams of her prey, terrifying to death or aging rapidly those it hunts. Unfortunately, while outside her domain the fact that the two are somehow bound together or even the same being is well-documented through the use of spells like locate person that return two simultaneous results, Justine is in denial about the link, putting bounties on the Banshegh and having herself locked into her bedroom from the outside as publicity stunts. And even her own people are torn: Justine would just about be an ideal ruler, if not for the fact that she's got some kind of undead spirit problem she doesn't want to admit even to herself.

How this happened is a subject of much debate. Some scholars theorize that Justina simply has a really off-kilter bloodform manifestation (the Banshegh started showing up shortly after her husband died, suggesting an awakening of sorts), others that the Banshegh is a kind of spiritual parasite, a divine fragment that somehow survived 1,500 years before latching onto a hostess it leaves at night to feed. One source, twenty years old, states that she was cursed by a priest of the dead god Azrai and had her essence bound up with a being from the Shadow World. This is important because the one sure-fire way of getting rid of the Banshegh is killing Justina, which no one really wants to do, and no one's certain what destroying the Banshegh separately would do to her, or even whether it might just destroy their connection and unleash a deadly awnshegh from the one thing restraining it from being even worse.

It's a bit academic, though, as both have the Invulnerability power with no listed method of destruction (though it's also clarified that they do not have the same blood powers, so presumably these methods aren't even necessarily the same as one another). Justina has some powers related to being good at ruling (mostly mind-reading immunity and persuasion), while the Banshegh not only has its dream-entering-age-to-death-through-fear attack, but a standard wail, a withering touch, and a bunch of defensive powers. Definitely a creative monster with an inherent mystery and moral dilemma.

The Basilisk[edit]

Once the embittered son of a Khinasi nobleman, or possibly a creation of the same that contained his resentful and poisonous spirit, the Basilisk's mind has degraded into primitive drives over the centuries. He no longer gives interviews, speaks, or has the capacity to cast spells. All it does is hunt, patrol territory, and take sadistic pleasure in torturing prey, for while its intelligence is fully degraded it retains animal cunning. Its once-human form is now a many-armed serpent or lizard, with deadly poison dripping from its claws and fangs and a long tail it can grab enemies with. The toxic slime that coats its body gives it an overpowering B.O., which can be smelt for weeks and carries upwind, crippling and nauseating those who get too close, impairing even those who save and crippling those who don't. Plus, it can turn any water it looks at, up to and including heavy fog, into a nasty poison that drains Strength and Constitution and can even kill outright if not treated. Oh, and it not only has Regeneration, but Invulnerability with no listed method of destruction. Bleh.

While under the Basilisk's father its Holding was a green and pleasant place, as one can easily imagine, given both the psychic influence and literal toxic sabotage of a ruler like this, its domain has since become a bit of a shithole wasteland. Even while he had a working human mind, he greedily hoarded magic to himself and maintained relentless control through force over the bandits and giants who lived there. Now that it can no longer control power and rampages about killing and poisoning everything, the only major inhabitants are the Darkblades, a band of political revolutionaries led by a woman claiming to be the rightful sultana of Aftane who may be able to charm the Basilisk with sorcery, since it ignores them, and a hill giant tribe that has given up on trying to kill the creature and just try to keep their livestock out of its rapacious reach.

The Binman[edit]

A product of the Chimera's experiments into life and death via alchemy, the Binman was originally an inert mish-mash of parts from various humanoids stitched together. As Danita slew the Iron Troll, however, some of that creature's divine energy soaked into the Binman as well as her, giving it life and animation. In the confusion of its bizarre birth, the creature tore free of its restraints in a shower of alchemical fluids, splattering all over Danita and starting the wizardess down the path to becoming the Chimera. After attempting to kill her in a brief struggle, the Binman escaped her and now wanders the wider world.

The Binman has no Holding of its own, and travels aimlessly seeking purpose and true power. It has killed those who challenge it, but has also made friends of both honest men and crooks. Sometimes it works as a mercenary. It is mute, preventing an interview, but some theorize that the creature's slapped-together body has resulted in a jumbled personality, meaning its erratic behavior is the result of different parts and pieces of its mind coming to the fore at different times. It's probably going to end up fighting the Sphinx sooner or later, since it has often battled against that creature's armies.

The Boar[edit]

Within living memory, a cruel and rapacious nobleman picked a fight with a bunch of druid-priests while despoiling a forest on a hunting expedition and lost. He abandoned his party and fled into the woods, and, like all those who split the party, was struck down by the DM shortly thereafter, as he disturbed a mother boar who gored him to death. Unfortunately for everyone involved, one of her tusks pierced his heart, and the boar in question promptly turned albino and doubled in size, becoming the fearsome awnshegh now known as the Boar of Thuringode. In the years since, many have tried, and failed, to slay the Boar, and every time it successfully kills a would-be hero and feasts on their flesh it grows in size. It's currently bigger than a house, and strong enough to plow huge sections of woodlands like a clear-cutting logging company in an episode of Captain Planet when it makes a charge and gore attack. It's not truly evil (it's still pretty much just an animal, after all, if a bad-tempered one), but it's a problem for the local druids and a deadly danger to many of the forest's inhabitants.

It doesn't have any real powers beyond monstrous size and strength, Regeneration, and Invulnerability, and, Erik be praised, it does have a suggested method of potential permanent destruction listed. The sage compiling this information theorizes that cutting off its head and removing its tusks might finish it off for good. It doesn't completely control its forest as a Holding, which is still just considered a province of Massenmarch, though its influence has turned it into a spooky and ominous place. The forest is a bit of a haven for bandits, goblins, and gnolls, at least in part because it is one of the few such forests free of human logging and exploitation. Notably, the local druids and dryads are in conflict with the technical owners of the place, who want to get at the choice timber there, and the latter often accuse the former of trying to find a mate for the Boar. This means that while all parties involved want to be rid of the awnshegh, they are still very much in conflict with one another.

The Chimaera[edit]

Danita Kusor was once a half-elf wizardess, one who tried to become immortal and eternally young via alchemy and necromancy without using divine power. Perhaps addled by self-experimentation with her elixirs, she theorized that, while no one species could regenerate fully, a blend of various humanoid and non-humanoid factors might let her create a potion that could restore life to a corpse. In the process, she committed several murders, went into exile, and created a husk of stitched-together parts that she tried to animate with magic and alchemy. After fighting with and killing an awnshegh known as the Iron Troll, both she and her creation absorbed some of its power, causing the latter to come to life as the minor awnshegh called the Binman, shattering its restraints and drenching her in mutagenic alchemical sludge. The two struggled before she drove the creature off, but her little dip had already altered her body and mind. Believing that the Iron Troll's death-energy had suffused not only her but every potion in her labrotory, she had the bright idea to make a huge bathtub full of all her mixed-together potions, dragon's blood, and the saliva of a displacer beast before diving in. What came out was a hideous mismash of half-elf, dragon, and displacer beast, the awnshegh known as the Chimera.

The Chimera is physically and mentally unstable, able to shift between her original half-elf shape and the mixed-up "beast form." Her beast form is shifting and changing over time, a process seemingly exacerbated by killing and absorbing the powers of various heroes who show up trying to get rid of her. Both her forms are capable of speech, though her beast form is considerably more feral and less intelligent, and both are quite mad. She isn't Invulnerable, for a nice change, but she does have Regeneration, enhanced senses, a variety of spells in human form, and a variety of monster powers in beast form, including flight, claws, and fangs. Two of her many limbs always remain as human arms even in beast form, with which she wields daggers and wands. Her transformations are somehow tied to the phases of the moons; her wild mood swings stabilize as the full moon approaches.

Her Holding, the Chimaeron, is mostly governed by a Council of Leaders, town mayors and officials who are largely escaped criminals from other nations and do what she commands when she bothers to involve herself in politics. She controls all Sources within, though, only playing cat and mouse with some wizard brothers for fun. It is a haven for criminals from other nations, including bandits, smugglers, and pirates. Ironically, original incarnation of the Council formed when the locals tried to unite to rid themselves of the Chimera, only for her to co-opt the process to seize control. Local legend has it that a nascent ehrshegh may be forming in a cave deep in the mountains, a huge bear-man called the Bruin, who will one day kill the Chimera and drive out the evil that infests the Chimaeron.

The Elf[edit]

Despite his title, Rhuobhe is not the progenitor of the elf race in the Birthright setting. He's not even the only elf awnsheghlien, and at least two of the others, the Green Man and Rhuovar the Red Bull, work (or worked) for him. He is, however, the very first elfin awnshegh.

Back in the ancient days before the gods battled Azrai, Rhuobhe was one the first elves to welcome humanity to Cerilia in exchange for their aid against the goblins. In fact, Rhuobhe was actually very fond of humanity, at first... which meant he felt all the more betrayed when, after the war was won and elfkind permitted humanity to settle on Cerilia, humanity began ravaging the forests for agriculture and industry and ignoring his sincere pleas for peace and reason. He responded by founding the gheallie Sidhe (literally Hunt of the Elves, more commonly known as the Wild Hunt), an elfin terrorist hate-group that has been trying to drive humanity off of Cerilia with murder, sabotage and catastrophe ever since. He gained his common title of "Manslayer" after his 100th personal kill. But it wasn't enough for Rhuobhe, who subsequently led those elves who thought like him to embrace the dark god as an ally when Azrai promised to exterminate humanity. Although most of his followers abandoned him when they realized the true extent of Azrai's plans, Rhuobhe remained loyal to his wicked patron until the bitter end, and was subsequently inundated with his power following the Battle of Mount Deismaar, becoming the first elfin awnshegh.

Thanks to his blooded powers, Rhuobhe appears as a tall, regal elf whose skin is a shadowy gray color reminiscent of marble and whose eyes have become orbs of solid white. He cannot be harmed by any weapon that isn't at least a +3 enchanted weapon, is immune to "launched missiles" (that is, any projectile weapon that wasn't thrown by hand), and has the Regeneration (minor) and Fear (major) traits. He's a powerful gish with 7th level and Realm spells, who wields a +4 Bastard Sword of Life Stealing and "Winged Death", a +3 longbow that can create its own arrows of radiant blue light that hit as +5 weapons and do +1d6 damage if the target fails a save vs. spell. His blooded powers have increased his senses, allowing him to penetrate subterfuges and illusions, but also means he is near-blinded and disorientated by sunlight - ironically, he's basically become the Cerilia equivalent of a drow!

He rules over a stretch of untamed wilderness known as, simply, Rhuobhe, north of Avanil and south of Boeruine, which he stalks endlessly with his bloodthirsty bands of anti-human followers - such is their zeal that they will even kill other elves for being insufficiently anti-human! Other elven nations don't officially condemn or condone him; in fact, they actually look down upon him somewhat, as he is believed to have strayed too far from the elfin devotion to Chaos and become Neutral-aligned, which some amongst the gheallie Sidhe argue makes him no longer fit to be part of their ranks. Of course, few elves are stupid enough to voice such thoughts where Rhuobhe Manslayer can hear them...

Oh, and he still hates goblins. He plans on genociding them next once humanity's out of the way.

The Gorgon[edit]

The BBEG of the Birthright setting. Before the war of the gods, Raesene was the eldest son of the First House of Andu, and the elder brother of Haelyn and Roele. However, due to his bastard birth, he was not in line to the throne, something that embittered him despite his family, contrary to what certain politically-tinged fantasy settings might have you expect, embracing him as one of their own. He earned the title "the Black Prince," his armor having turned black and sooty after leaving the court to go have adventures, and became famous as one of the greatest armsmasters of the world, training both his brothers. However, after his father's death, Azrai began to appear to him in dreams and visions, tempting him into damnation by feeding his feelings of thwarted ambition and envy. As the secret champion of the Doom Bringer, Raesene began covertly amassing a private core of loyal supporters and subverting them to the worship of Azrai, before betraying his family and his people in the war against the dark god. After the death of the gods at Mount Deismaar, Raesene was, allegedly, the most powerful inheritor of a fragment of divine energy who did not himself become a god afterwards.

In the years since, he ultimately killed his brother's descendant, and last Emperor of Anuire, Michael Roele in a final battle, though Michael might've had the last laugh. Raesene underestimated Michael's determination to save his people, and destroying him cost him the last dregs of his humanity. Though the creature still believes himself to be Raesene, all that's left is the Gorgon. Also, some folklore suggests that Michael somehow warded or ground out his own power as the dark creature committed bloodtheft on him, forcing the Gorgon to remain confined to his castle and seat of his power for long periods. Either way, no one could ever mistake the stony monster the Gorgon is now for the handsome man he used to be. With a huge, many-horned head filled with ape-like fangs, stony skin bristling with spiky growths, digitigrade legs ending in diamond-hard hooves, and an enormous overall stature, the Gorgon is every inch the monster-king. Additionally, the Gorgon regularly kills and "harvests" bloodlines within the Gorgon's Crown, his huge and ominous Holding, to gain more power for himself.

The Gorgon actually doesn't have Invulnerability, but, well, he was one of the greatest swordsmen in the world before he had a millenium and a half of practice. He also has Regeneration, his stony skin gives him hefty magic resistance and immunity to all but +3 or better magic weapons, and he can kill or turn people to stone by looking at them. He also has a bristling arsenal of powerful magical weapons, including his favorite weapon Lifeender, one of the twelve tighmaevril bloodsilver weapons in the setting. The Gorgon is also terribly, terribly patient: after all, he's immortal, as near as anyone can tell, so he's got all the time in the world to plot the downfall and conquest of all other nations. He seeks to become the emperor and absolute master of the entire continent of Cerilia, then of the entire world; his burning ambition is a hot and insatiable thing.

The Gorgon's Crown, his personal Holding, is a huge expanse of volcanic wasteland, riven with seismic activity befitting a ruler with such burning rage and ambition within him. It has a huge mixed military force, with access to gnolls, goblins, and human dregs who flee to the Crown with nowhere else to go, though its military captains struggle to prevent racial hatreds from boiling over. The Gorgon is also in an informal alliance with the Magian and the Raven, with all three planning to overwhelm and destroy all opposition, including all other awnshegh nations, before battling it out among themselves, and has some ties to the Elf. He also has many capable and somewhat-loyal lieutenants working for him, including the wicked dwarf and lesser awnshegh Kiras Earthcore, "the Hand of the Gorgon," Courrak Lone Hunter, an old but wily gnoll chieftain, the Goblin King Charqek Talnos, and a mysterous priestess known only as "the Hand of Azrai," who is not blooded but still a high-level cleric of many dark gods.

The Hag[edit]

Once a beautiful, intelligent, and ambitious princess who was given away in a political marriage by her regent cousin, Fulda Geissen didn't mind since she was marrying up to the heir to the bigger neighboring realm. But then, her newlywed husband took ill and died shortly after the honeymoon, and Fulda managed to screw herself out of being named regent by her husband's ailing and aged father by being too quick, pushy, and ambitious about it. (Which the text notes is suspicious, but we don't know if she actually murdered him.) This kicked off a chain of events that led the neighbors to end up going to war, and Fulda made everything worse again by kidnapping the six-year-old heir and running off with some followers into disputed territory, hoping to get her cousin on her side. It backfired, and the horrified regent instead demanded she instead return to court to be punished for this crime. Rather than do so, Fulda vanished into the mountains... and whatever else happened to the helpless child, her seething paranoia and hatred transformed her into the Hag.

Now twisted into a hideously old woman with clawed hands, covered in open sores, whose lower half is a wriggling mass of venomous snakes, the Hag of Muden amuses herself by stoking wars between the two powers she's sandwiched between, who only manage to sign treaties in futile efforts to unite and destroy her. She uses her powers to ensnare messengers, conjure up illusions, kidnap innocent people to send home half-mad with fear and stories of torture, and doing horrible things to any innocent children she can catch. She's also quite powerful; despite lacking Invulnerability, she has a smorgasboard of strong blood powers, the spellcasting abilities of a 15th level wizard, can fight in melee with a combination of inhuman strength, a variety of weapons, and her claws and venomous snake-half (and the venom causes either a day-long coma full of night terrors or death), and even causes anyone looking at her to save or flee in terror.

The Hag's domain, Korden (not Muden, weirdly), is largely uninhabited due to the evil reputation of its dark master. It has a potent magical Source within, as well as varieties of poisonous snakes that do the Hag's bidding and a small number of men she's somehow enslaved to her will under the former ranger Orin Hawk. There're also theories that the Hag is actually a succession of different individuals, with Fulda Geissen merely being the first, but it's not particularly well-developed. Not especially deep or complex, but a good example of a dangerous and powerful awnshegh pure villain.

The Harpy[edit]

Once, there was a bard named Khabara Habban, someone born with strong Azrai blood but tried to resist its dark allure by living an upright life as an heroic adventurer. She and her party were set upon by a flock of harpies after they'd used up most of their resources and hadn't had a chance for a long rest, resulting in a near-party wipe. However, as Khabara was trying to turn into a bird and bail, with everyone else either dead or bleeding out, the harpy queen got her through the heart with what turned out to be a mysterious weapon from the Shadow World that allows a murderer to take on the form of their slain victims. In what will come to be a bit of a pattern with some awnshegh, this mixture of bloodtheft, magic, and other such effects resulted in a clusterfuck, ultimately leaving a merged being who was neither truly the harpy queen nor Khabara, the awnshegh known as the Harpy.

Now effectively a 12th level bard in a sexy monstergirl body, the Harpy mostly keeps to her own Holding, the Isle of the Harpy off the southern coast. (Which is actually an archipelago.) She still has Khabara's intellect, but the harpy queen's sense of priorities, and is unconsciously paranoid and lashes out at tokens of her old life; destroying all her old instruments for instance. The various harpies and birds on the islands do her bidding, and she operates as a bit of a crime boss, charging protection fees from those who fish or ship in her waters and raiding those who don't pony up.

The Hydra[edit]

For a thousand years or more, the Hydra has been the terror of the Harrowmarsh. It was once an ordinary crocodile, and no one's a hundred percent certain what the fuck created it, only that every time it kills and consumes a Blooded hero who showed up to try to destroy it, that hero's head sprouts out of its neck in a hideous mane of tendrils, many of them semi-aware and miserable in their current state. It's also covered in stunted, vestigial arms and limbs. The Hydra is animalistic, like many beast awnshegh, but the nature of its bloodform has also imbued it with a certain amount of horrible intelligence: pretty dumb for a human being, but goddamn smart for an evil animal. It's also grown in size and stature, such that it's 21' tall, and while ironically lacking Regeneration, it's got Invulnerability with no listed means of destruction (though severing the heads is a good guess), the power to detect life and cripple it with fear, and it can make horrible bite attacks with its extra heads to pin for the death roll with the crocodile jaw, on top of all the other stuff it can do just by being a big fuck-off apex ambush predator in its (un)natural habitat.

Its holding is a huge brackish swamp, populated entirely by even-more-desperate criminals than anywhere else with literally nowhere else to go, and the hydrakin, disgorged through asexual reproduction from boils on its body when it consumes particularly powerful prey. Some of these hydrakin actually breed true, including the caracdir, Birthright's equivalent to lizardfolk. Not all hydrakin are as malevolent as their progenitor (the caracdir are, much like most other settings' lizardfolk, a neutral people who keep to themselves and don't bother others without cause), but there're so goddamn many of them in many varieties that the dangerous ones are pretty goddamn dangerous. The Hydra itself may or may not have a secret network/cult that works for it, or it may just sleep in its waterlogged tower. Either way, between its dangerous size and abilities and its natural weapons, no one's seen it in a long time because no one tends to see it and live.

Props to the many scholars, by the by, who have over time managed to decypher the identities of many of its heads through hard work and scholarship with minimal direct information.

The Kraken[edit]

The Kraken is, as you've probably come to expect, a huge fuck-off aquatic tentacle monster. It is terrifying, given its massive size in a relatively-grounded and realistic campaign setting, and no one knows what the actual fuck it is, what it's doing, or why it picked the former Great Bay, now the Krakennauricht as its territory. Maybe it was one of the mounts Azrai rode across the sea, maybe it was a creature from the elemental plane of water the evil god corrupted for some inscrutable purpose, maybe it's a remnant of the old gods that predate the present batch which got its hands on a bloodgift. Either way, it's the biggest monster in the world, and it makes up for its lack of Invulnerability with both Regeneration and Great Regeneration, meaning it doesn't have to give a fuck about losing a few tentacles or an eye when it claims prizes on the open sea.

The Kraken is, atypically for one of the animalistic awnshegh but typically for krakens from other D&D settings, also a super-smart genius. Humans know little about the creature, so information about it is scarce in Blood Enemies, but Havens of the Great Bay went into greater detail about it. It has enslaved the sahuagin, having destroyed their civilization and using them as its minions. They worship the Kraken as the Many-Limbed God and offer it living sacrifices, plus whatever treasures they obtain from the ships they sink. Most notably, the priests of the Kraken do actually have access to cleric spells, though where and how they get the spells is unknown. For some reason, it has also forbidden the sahuagin to make themselves known to other races, leaving the Krakennauricht, and from setting foot on land, with the exception of Krakenstaur. Humans who look over the Krakenstaur sometimes see humanoid shapes in the distance, but all attempts to contact them have failed, since the sahuagin are, justifiably, much too scared of the Kraken to defy its will even if they didn't see all surface-dwellers as enemies. Its motives are inscrutable and alien; even its sahuagin followers and slaves don't fully understand the Kraken.

The Lamia[edit]

Keta Pechaya was a one-time exotic dancer, con-woman, and thief, who accidentally absorbed the tainted bloodline of a man dying on a battlefield when she murdered him to loot the corpse. Years later, after killing and draining several Blooded folk to power up, she murdered the king of Besaiam and became ruler as the Lamia, spending away the country's wealth constantly funding vainglorious monuments to herself. Physically, she hews to the original D&D depiction of the lamia, as more of a lion-taur than a snake-woman (with a hypothetical snake-woman awnshegh called "the Naga" instead used to illustrate the bloodform power). That said, if the tauric thing isn't a dealbreaker, she's still pretty good looking for an awnshegh... though her left hand's fingernails can extend like a cat's claws and slice through metal when she's mad.

Her main powers are her ability to instantly charm men, whether with a glance or an aura, and a touch that drains Wisdom and makes men into her fawning servitors. Women are immune to these powers, which is one of the reasons she gets very... catty (hee) whenever pretty ladies are around, the other being that she is envious of her lost human beauty. Between her various charmed puppets and a fair-sized army of mercenaries, she actually controls a decent-sized holding, where the common people are lied to about being ruled by an awnshegh and subjected to ruinous taxation. But she doesn't regularly pillage her own people, and at least some of her appetite for wealth is sated through extorting and terrorizing her neighbors. She's also managed to corner the market on a rare deer whose horns are used as spell components by sending poachers to kill the rest in neighboring countries. The Lamia has a cautious alliance with the Raven, planning to invade and split Cwmb Bheinn between the two of them soon, Poland-style.

The Leviathan[edit]

A mysterious giant monster that was, by all accounts, a monster even before Azrai's bloodline tainted it, the Leviathan has only been seen by a relatively small number of living people/survivors, none of whom really got a good look at the thing. It's apparently been alternately described as a huge whale or a massive sea-serpent, potentially a fusion of both. (Mosasaur? Plesiosaur?) There was a time when it used to be intelligent enough to demand tribute from passing ships, but that time is long past and it's degenerated into a fully animalistic monster. It's not Invulnerable, for a change, it's just fuckin' enormous (only the Kraken is bigger), does a shitload of damage (1/4 chance to swallow anyone it makes bite attacks against and its tail swipes cause 20' waves even if they don't smash ships in half), and can Regenerate. So good luck with that!

It mostly terrorizes the Leviathan's Reach, a huge icy coastline on the northeast corner of the continent, and makes getting to the semi-mythical island of Torova Temylatin a real cockgrinder.

The Magian[edit]

A mysterious lich from across the Sea of Dragons, the spellcaster who would become the Magian landed on the coast of Pipryet six years ago with the Riders, a core of loyal Death Knight followers, then launched a coup, during which he committed bloodtheft on the rulers of the nation, removing many of the disadvantages of his undead condition and letting him move like a living person while leaving him, you know, a half-rotten corpse. He continues to war ceaselessly with his neighbors, constantly seeking expansion, though he is a shockingly fair and just ruler beloved by his people on the domestic policy front, and his reign has seen a marked increase in local prosperity and standards of living. He also uses his loyal follower and protege, Ahazarus, as a body-double, so neither his subjects nor visiting adventurers and assassins may know the truth of his condition, misdirected towards a more obvious target.

The Magian is a strange figure among the evil awnshegh: a visionary idealist. He is driven, not by a lust for power and domination, like the Gorgon or the Raven, but by his hatred of chaos and his conviction that all the world's problems could be solved if only a sufficiently intelligent and powerful figure could destroy it and impose order; a perfect, one-world order that would more than justify any atrocities committed in the process of creating it. He idolizes Roele, for instance, and scoffs at the idea that Azrai's taint has affected his thinking... and to be fair, he is a bizarre aberration in more ways than one, so there is perhaps some truth to that. That said, the Magian also performs horrible experiments in spreading Azrai's taint on people who don't remotely deserve it, and has learned several spells to induce or weaponize it. A visionary idealist supervillain is, after all, still a supervillain. He is in a tenuous alliance with the Gorgon and the Raven; neither of them are really his kind of people, but hell, better them than some of the freak-show awnshegh running around this crazy continent, and when the final showdown inevitably happens their time will come.

Power-wise, while his blood is somewhat-minor, he has a shitload of offensive and defensive blood powers, surprisingly excluding Regeneration, but not Invulnerability, with no listed or suggested means of destruction, Resistance to both magic and non-magical attacks, and both Death Touch and Wither touch. Some of this might just be his lich powers treated as bloodline powers for mechanical simplicity, mind. Oh, and he's also a 20th-level magic user with a custom spell, bloodline corruption, that drains a few points off the caster's bloodline to forcibly change another creature into an awnshegh, turning their blood into that of Azrai, giving them bloodform and 1d4 powers while otherwise keeping what they have. He's also scattered a few scrolls of this spell around the continent, for his own purposes.

The Manticore[edit]

The Minotaur[edit]

Unlike what you might be expecting, this awnshegh looks more like a centaur with the lower body of a bull and horns coming out of its head.

The Raven[edit]

The Seadrake[edit]

The Serpent[edit]

The Siren[edit]

The Sphinx[edit]

Originally, the Sphinx was a Blooded human wizard named Danil the Inquisitive, who went on an expedition to track one of the legendarily vicious dire lions known as "savannah cats" in the domain of Zikala, whose inhabitants hoped they were extinct. Turned out they were wrong, and Danil was eaten by one. Yet weirdly, this didn't kill him; instead, his spirit merged with the creature, placing his brain in control of the dire lion's body, and he became an awnshegh. Unfortunately, the lion's mind is still in there too, and it occasionally wrestles away control, making the Sphinx prone to fits of incredibly violent rage - which is very dangerous since he can literally rip a man limb from limb with one swipe of his bare paws!

The Sphinx resembles a massive lion whose forepaws have started to become more human-like, most notably gaining a primitive thumb, and whose muzzle has grown shorter and more human-like. This has accelerated within the last few decades, and restored his spellcasting abilities as a 12th level wizard again. In addition to his claw attack, which functions as a vorpal sword, he can also unleash a Fear or Divine Aura blood ability with his roar, can intuitively command and control any cat, and he has the Regeneration (Great) trait, making him extra hard to kill.

The dry, broken badlands ruled over by the Sphinx have no formal name, but lie north of Zikala and east of Binsada. The locals are mostly subsistence hunter-gatherers and herdsmen, and consist of a mixture of humans, goblins and gnolls, as well as legions of large cats - cheetahs, leopards, jaguars, lions and savannah cats. The domain is also home to the Sphinx's offspring with various feline and human mates, ranging from unusually intelligent great cats to full-fledged catfolk, although these Sphinx-kin aren't really described in any detail. The Sphinx rules over a strict caste system; the Sphinx at top, under which in descending order are the Paw caste (feline clan-leaders and the Sphinx-kin; makes up 1% of the population), the Slept caste (elite felines, humanoid business owners, spellcasters, and members of the khourseti alif, or "Hands of the Sphinx", which are the Sphinx's direct servants - this caste accounts for 7% of the population), the Purr caste (any feline not part of the Paw or the Slept; makes up 92% of the feline population), and the Tuft caste (any humanoid that isn't part of the Slept), which has absolutely no rights and is basically a slave caste.

The Spider[edit]

A goblin awnshegh who has been transformed into a hideous, many-eyed, many-armed version of itself, creating the biggest nation-state of goblins in modern Cerilia. It's got that pesky Invulnerable blood trait, and as its suggested means of destruction is "burn it to ashes on wood from a dryad's tree, then plough the ashes and a load of salt into the earth", well, it's probably never going to die for good.

The Vampire[edit]

The White Witch[edit]

The Wolf[edit]