"It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue."
- – Zork
Not those Grues... but just in case, you might want to keep the lights on.
Grues are an obscure elemental monster from the Elemental Planes in the Great Wheel multiverse of Dungeons & Dragons. They are divided into four distinct species, as was almost everything in the elemental planes; the chagrin (earth grue), the harginn (fire grue), the ildriss (air grue), and the vardigg (water grue). There's also the oft-forgotten mud grue, which was a late addition to the party.
These little monsters first appeared in the Monster Manual II for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition, possibly from Jack Vance's Dying Earth since they really have nothing directly in common with Zork. They were updated to 2nd edition first in the Al-Qadim splatbook "Secrets of the Lamp" and then in the Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix. They made two appearances in 3rd edition; Dragon Magazine #285 for 3.0, and "Complete Arcane" for 3.5. The mud grue only ever appeared in Dungeon Magazine; #37 for 2e and #138 for 3e.
Grues are basically malevolent evil elementals, who possess the ability to interfere with magics of their native element - for this reason, elementalists will sometimes summon them as weapons against rivals of their own order.
Chaggrins, also known as Soil Beasts, take the form of a bipedal, man-like form made of disgusting, slimy, lumpy wet clay, with its asymmetrical, ugly face permanently set in a vicious expression, its small eyes gleaming with feral light. They can also assume the form of a yellow, hedgehog-like beast with a fanged skull-like head, or a large but normal-looking mold.
Vicious and cruel, chaggirins love to torment victims; their most common tactic is to assume beast form and then lunge at a foe, digging its long, razor-sharp foreclaws into its victim and then hanging on for dear life as the poor bastard tries to dislodge them. Their presence disrupts all earth-based spells within 40 feet.
Chaggrin are sometimes enslaved by the dao or crysmals to serve as diggers or as watchdogs. Most other races consider them too hateful to be efficient workers or reliable guards. On their own, chaggrin scratch out a living from rich mineral veins, which they devour. They live in extended families, sometimes cooperating in a limited way but often feuding among themselves. These families seldom accept new members by choice; mates are stolen from other families in violent raids and forced to adapt to their new circumstances. A chaggrin that leaves its family or is exiled never returns. To start a new family, it must capture a mate of its own.
Chaggrin encountered on the Prime Material plane are outcasts, exiled from their family for some treachery and unable to return to their own plane. They often agree to serve evil masters of the Underdark, such as derro and duergar. Most drow consider them too small and loathsome to be of much use. Evil gnomes who worship Urdlen consider chaggrin sacred and pamper them in underground temples.
Because they devour valuable minerals, chaggrin are considered vermin on the plane of elemental Earth. Most sentient races there exterminate them without mercy, but some few tolerate them – some crysmals, for example, use their psionic powers to make the chaggrin harmless and keep them around as servants. Some of the earth elementals consider chaggrin delicious and will go to great lengths to obtain them. Mages sometimes capture chaggrin and use them to dispel earth-based magics placed by their rivals; elementalists are especially prone to this.
Harginns, or Flame Horrors, are the grues of the Elemental Plane of Fire, taking the form of a human with fangs, flames for hair, and a lower body comprised of billowing flames. They can also shapeshift into the form of normal flames, or even a bronze-skinned human. Harginn features, when discernable, express leering evil and great cruelty. Their eyes are glowing black, and their body colors are typically combinations of fiery hues such as scarlet and orange, crimson and purple-blue, yellow and orange.
Quick moving and aggressive, harginns can hurl gouts of flame from their fingertips and blink (teleport short distances) at will. Add in that fire-based spells won't work within 20 feet of them, and they make quite nasty opponents.
Harginn are organized into guilds, following a loose social order based on status; higher status guilds give orders to the lower ones, though they are not always obeyed and mutinies are common. Most harginn guilds are organized by function and sex, with females in the scout, shepherd, gatherer, weaver, and hunter guilds, and males in the farmer, soldier, cook, scribe, and priest guilds. Both males and females can be in the pariah guild, which is responsible for burning waste materials, fetching water, and other disagreeable tasks.
Most harginn are servants and lackeys of the efreet, though some few live in bands that wander across the seas of flame. They are generally on poor terms with most creatures of the plane of elemental Fire – even their efreet masters. They tend to be nomads everywhere but in the City of Brass.
Ship-sailing clans of harginn do exist, operating vessels stolen from the efreet. In these clans the females are the fisherfolk and the males are the sailors and marines. Though these clans are the most advanced of the harginn nations, they are also the most despised among other races of the plane of elemental Fire, for they are scalawags and cutthroats who sell their captives into slavery in the City of Brass. The efreet tolerate them as useful slavers and scavengers, though they mount occasional punitive expeditions against harginn who become too active. The piratical harginn accept tribute from some races of the plane in exchange for allowing them freedom from harginn harassment. The azer are known to buy off the pirate harginn promptly, and thus their ships are the safest merchant vessels to travel on.
The malevolent ildriss, or Wind Terror, is a vaporous entity that normally appears as a self-propelled fog cloud with vaporous tentacles and three faintly gleaming eyes. However, it can become effectively invisible at will by dispersing itself to become a living whisper of breeze. Ildriss are generally gray, pale yellow, or (rarely) white. Their eyes are pyramidal, ranging from dark orange through scarlet to maroon.
Air-based spells will not function within 50 feet of an ildriss.
The ildriss make and break friendships quickly, living in ever-shifting cliques and tenuous partnerships. Though they are almost always solitary on the Prime Material plane, they are more outgoing on the plane of elemental Air, where most of them dwell in semi-stable tribes. These tribes have never been known to betray one another, though they do not always cooperate.
The ildriss follow no known chain of command; those with goals lead the others. They ally themselves with others only so long as their partners are useful to them. The ildriss are all servants or spies of Yan-C-Bin, the Elemental Prince of Evil Air.
Ildriss are often outcasts on the plane of elemental Air, and are considered parasites in the communities of other air creatures. Like other grue, they use other creatures only to further their own ends. Most ildriss are very hesitant predators. They may spy on other creatures for days, invisible and unobserved, before choosing a course of action.
Ildriss eat clouds, cold breezes, high-flying birds, and small creatures of elemental air. They maintain defined territories only during mating season, when they grow more even more violent and untrustworthy than usual. Their mating grounds seem to be territories carried along on the wind; ildriss defend particular bodies of cold, dry air, not the airspace above some earthbound terrain. They often attack and kill interlopers in these territories during their midwinter mating season, but they do not eat intruders; their attacks are purely instinctual.
There are rumors of a race of good ildriss, heretics who have abandoned the worship of Yan-C-Bin. These creatures, the so-called "fog ildriss", are said to be even more timid that other ildriss, and only approach creatures of saintlike purity, such as moralist priests and paladins. In all other respects they resemble normal ildriss.
The varrdig, or Fluid Brute, is the fucking worst. The game already had the Water Weird, supposedly Chaotic Evil itself; but noooo, that wasn't enough. Much as some would like to blame Rose Estes for nerfing the Weird, she was writing June 1982, too late to affect whoever-it-was who came up with this Grue.
This is a globular, jelly-like blob of translucent, greenish-colored slime, with its lower body fringed by small, clawed legs and with pipe-like protrusions radiating from its middle. These flexible hoses provide propulsion by jetting water when the creature is in its element, and when out of its element can be used to attack foes; blinding and stunning the conscious, and dispatching the vulnerable hentai-style by thrusting a pipe into a nostril or mouth and filling the lungs with water. Like all grues, it can disguise itself as a mass of elemental matter - in this case water - but it retains a greenish tinge that can impede with its efforts to hide.
A trio of varrdigs can fuse together at will, forming a three-lobed entity that resembles a snowman. This triad fusion requires 1-3 rounds to complete, after which the creatures act as one; in this form, they are a far more formidable opponent, with increased defenses, moral and bludgeoning weight. The midbody portion is believed to house the sensory organs (if any do exist), as evidenced by odd outgrowths of cilia and stalks, and the upper body portion sprouts 3-6 propulsion tubes.
Water-based spells will not function within 30 feet of a varrdig.
Varrdigs often travel in packs of three, the better to assume their fused form in the event of a powerful threat. It is not known whether varrdig triads are the only ones to fuse or whether other varrdigs can join in the fusion. Varrdig fusion may be a religious sacrament as well as a defensive and hunting strategy. Varrdig triads seek out and claim territories that they defend from all others. These hunting grounds are soon depopulated by the varrdigs’ voracious appetites, and they move on to fresher waters.
Vardiggs are scavengers, though they are not above killing off weak, diseased, or elderly creatures they meet. They are exterminated by the marid whenever the two species meet, but they are on good terms with other water elemental races, and creatures such as the ixitxachitl and the sahuagin.
When they first appeared in Dungeon #37's adventure "The Mud Sorcerer's Tomb", mud grues were only mentioned in passing; any earth or water-based spell had a 50% chance of summoning a mud grue, which would attempt to kill the mage whose spell had brought them forth. They were described as resembling a mud-caked, diminutive humanoid crocodile, being immune to earth & water-based spells, and having an enchanted bite attack that could inflict drowning on a victim if the grue rolled a natural 20 and the victim then failed a save vs. petrification.
Perhaps fittingly, the adventure they appeared in for Dungeon #138 was a 3e update of that very same adventure. This version still looked like a mud-caked humanoid crocodile, but had lost its drowning bite ability; instead, it could now disrupt earth & water spells within 40 feet and could spit nauseating, potentially blinding mud at a single target once every 1d4 rounds. Also, it could be summoned by spells with the Earth, Water, Acid or Cold descriptors.
|The inhabitants of the Planes of Planescape|
|Upper Planes:||Aasimon - Angel - Animal Lord - Archon |
Asura - Eladrin - Guardinals - Lillend
|Middle Planes:||Formians - Githzerai - Inevitable - Marut |
Modron - Rilmani - Slaadi - Kamerel
|Lower Planes:||Alu-Fiend - Baatezu - Bladeling - Cambion |
Demodand - Erinyes - Hag - Hordling
Imp - Kyton - Loumara - Marilith - Obyrith
Succubus - Tanar'ri - Yugoloth
|Transitive Planes:||Astral Dreadnought - Githyanki|
|Inner Planes:||Azer - Elemental - Genie - Grue - Mephit |
Salamander - Sylph
|Sigil:||Dabus - Cranium Rat|
|High-ups:||Archangel - Archdevil - Archfey |
Archomental - Demon Prince