Jermlaine

From 1d4chan
He wants you to get off his lawn.

Jermlaine (the name is both plural and singular) are a race of small, compact, ugly, rat-like humanoids native to the world of Dungeons & Dragons, most distinguishable from the common goblin by their overabundance of loose, wrinkly skin and a strong jaw. They debuted in 1978; several years before that Spielberg gremlin movie, which became famous for whatever reason, so here were the first creatures of that sort in the game. They are known by a wide variety of other names, mostly obscene.

Jermlaine are most notable for their close kinship to rats, and are frequently found occupying lairs alongside of them. Spiteful yet cunning, they deeply distrust larger humanoids, and revel in using their skill at laying traps or making ambushes to play cruel tricks or otherwise get them into strife, both to steal valuables and food from them and to appease their own deeply rooted sense of inferiority due to their size.

Print History[edit]

Shoes untied!

Jermlaine first appeared - we won't say, featured - in the adventure Descent into the Depths of the Earth, for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition. You only met them in an encounter-table if you deliberately decided not to play one of the D-series tournament setpieces. Jermlaine subsequently got printed up in the Fiend Folio, which foisted upon them two humanoid relatives: the mite and (at a remove) the snyad. As Underdark staples by then, Douglas Niles allowed them a presence in the Dungeoneers Survival Guide (here spelled "jermalaine").

When AD&D shifted into its 2nd edition, all gremlinkind hit their apogee - especially these little scamps. Jermlaine were first updated in the 2nd Monstrous Compendium, from which they then received pride of place in the Monstrous Manual, apart from all their pestie relations. Dragon Magazine in #241 bestowed upon them a (Greyhawk-specific) origin, and PC stats; a couple years later issue #262 did a full "Ecology of the Jermlaine", part of the Monster Hunters Association storyline.

They last appeared in an official capacity in the Monster Manual 2 for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, but were updated to Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition in the semi-canonical Mordenkainen's Fiendish Folio.

Biology[edit]

Standing only a foot tall at most, jermlaine most remind views of a cross between a degenerate gnome and a humanoid mole rat. Whilst their basic body outline is humanoid, their large, pointed ears, big noses, and sharp claw-like nails add a certain rodent-like cast to their mien. Jermlaine are naturally hairless, save for the odd clump or tuft of stringy hair. Their skin is an earthern gray-brown color, prone to warts, and about 50% too big for them; draping their body in deep wrinkles and loose folds, to the point that the "baggy clothing" a viewer typically mistakes them for wearing is actually a naked jermlaine clad in nothing but it's own skin - even their "leather helmets" are just their pointy skulls wrapped in their own thickly folded skin. They will sometimes appropriate rags or scraps and use those for extra clothing, however.

The eyes of a jermlaine are weak; they can't handle bright light, but their infravision is similarly limited, restricted to a mere 30 feet. However, their senses of hearing and smell are extremely sharp - they can even detect invisible creatures roughly half the time.

For their size, jermlaine are remarkable quick and agile, which they exploit to their fullest advantage when raiding, attacking, or fleeing from danger.

The vocal chords of jermlaine are quite limited, restricting them to the kind of high-pitched chittering and squeaking noises one would hear from a rat. In fact they can speak to rats as if under a permanent Speak With Animals spell, but they're physically incapable of speaking humanoid languages, although they can most certainly understand them.

Jermlaine typically live about a third as long as humans do, usually dying around their 60s if they are lucky enough to make it to old age. Female jermlaine give birth to one or two offspring after a 3 month gestation; 75% of jermlaine are born male, but the attrition rate for male jermlaine is much higher, so by adulthood, there is typically an equal number of males and females in a clan.

Weirdly, jermlaine who have managed to live to the age of 60 manifest the ability to absorb magical energy; by spending 1d4 rounds (in the Monstrous Manual) or minutes (in the Ecology) handling a non-artifact or non-relic magical item, a jermlaine elder can permanently drain it of all its energy, rendering it useless. For obvious reasons, they lost this power in 3rd edition.

In AD&D, jermlaine are believed to be distantly related to gnomes in some way. In "Ecology of the Jermlaine", jermlaine are said to be part of a greater gremlin family, and specifically related to the Mite and Synad species. It speculates that all three may represent different stages in a line of devolution, starting from the base gnome form and then ultimately ending at the jermlaine, the most devolved of the group.

Culture[edit]

Jermlaine dwell in clans consisting of 4d4 families linked by blood relation, ruled over by the strongest and cleverest of the elder jermlaine present. These clans inhabit twisting labyrinths of underground caverns, usually intertwined with the lairs of rodents; regular rats, giat rats and, rarely, osquips all are used as riding mounts, lair guardians and trusted companions, and the jermlaine are devoted to them. They have been known to inhabit sewers and abandoned homes, but will never willingly share a space currently occupied by "the giants".

Jermlaine lairs are cunningly hidden and physically impassable by most humanoids, as they are usually a series of small chambers and tunnels scaled to their tiny occupants. The typical jermlaine lair is a filthy cave or burrow a short distance from a larger cavern complex. The only areas that can be easily reached by a human-sized being are the areas in which living captives are held and dead victims are butchered for food. Access past this area is controlled by small, one-foot-high corridors or thin, normally impassable cracks in the rock walls. The corridors lead directly to living areas and communal chambers. The living areas are furnished with crude furniture and items scavenged from past victims.

Each jermlaine family has a personal section that half resembles a nest, half a junk yard. Treasures are concealed throughout the lair. Each family maintains a series of small, personal caches, while the communal hoard is hidden in a series of small chambers at the end of cunningly concealed crawl ways. No one larger than a jermlaine can reach such treasure chambers.

For the most part, jermlaine live sedentary lives, venturing out of their lairs only to hunt, forage and raid other races. The rare exceptions are rovers; wandering merchants and couriers who ride rats between different jermlaine clan strongholds, carrying news and goods between them as they go.

Female jermlaine have a choice in their lives; they are treated as equal to the males, and allow to go hunting and raiding with them... but only if they are not child-rearing. If a female jermlaine falls pregnant, she is made to stay in the lair, where she handles mundane tasks and focuses on birthing and raising her offspring. Only once all of her children are fully adults at the age of 10 can she choose to rejoin the hunters. As females can and do get pregnant whilst rearing children, a female uninterested in raiding will simply spend her life as a mother, whilst a female who is more interested in raiding will shun mating. Jermlaine families are matrilinear; the father may be unknown, away or dead, so the children receive far more attention and recognition from their mother anyway.

Within a clan, the chieftain has ultimate authority; whilst he or she will lead important raids (from the rear, of course), the bulk of their work is in aiding the females in teaching the young all of the arts of trap-making and ambush.

Consumed by hate for all humanoid races larger than themselves, jermlaine eagerly prey on them as brigands, relying on a variety of traps - most frequently pit traps, net traps, and triplines - to get their victims vulnerable before swarming over them in ambush, binding them down with lassoos and grappling hooks whilst savagely beating them unconscious with clubs. Only foes that the jermlaine judge too difficult to capture are slain, brought down with darts and miniature pikes, as well as vials of acid or flaming oil for more well-armored foes. Well aware of their inferior physical prowess, jermlaine are cowards; the only times they will attack victims without waiting for them to stumble into a trap first is when they expect no serious opposition, meaning they usually prey on sick, injured or sleeping victims.

Even when they don't attack humanoids directly, they have been known to sneak up on them in order to make hit-and-run attacks aimed at picking pockets, stealing small goods, cutting fasteners, and damaging or befouling possessions.

Those who fall alive into the hands of the jermlaine will usually survive the experience - at least initially. Whilst jermlaine are not fussy eaters, and humanoid corpses are as palatable to them as animal carrion, they typically eat humanoid captives only if the pickings have been especially slim or if they are feeling particularly sadistic. The vast majority of the time (95% chance), the jermlaine will simply strip their victim of all their clothes and valuables, hog-tie them, shave them completely bald (which is not only funny to the jermlaine, but provides them with the resources to weave their nets and ropes from), and then leave them in a corridor of the dungeon to whatever happens next. The jermlaine may also play other pranks on these victims before abandoning them, like rubbing them down with irritants such as poison ivy/oak, destroying a favorite item in front of them, or fingerpainting rude, simplistic pictures on their naked skin.

Tormenting a "giant" is a relatively rare treat for jermlaine, and most of their time is spent hunting for survival's sake. Lizards, insects, carrion, fungi and molds make up the bulk of their food - rodent flesh comes only from rodents that are killed in battle or which die of old age; butchering their pets is unthinkable to jermlaine. Because of this, jermlain tend to serve as the "garbagemen" of caverns and dungeons, clearing up carrion and refuse of all sorts in their search for food and loot. "Surface food", as they call it, is a favored delicacy; even hardtack and iron rations are a welcome break in the jermlaine diet, meaning they will go for an adventurer's food pouch as readily as they will his coin pouch. They go particularly nuts for sweets, like sugar, candy and preserved fruits, and they can be bribed with this - although they don't stay bought for particularly long.

And this more useful than it sounds. A jermlaine community can be a veritable font of information about nearby terrain, especially the movement of native or visiting humanoids, or the remains of recently killed adventurers or humanoids. They've even been known to vaguely ally themselves with thieves guilds or communities of Underdark races, such as drow, trolls and troglodytes, acting as watchmen and spies. Still, their hatred for the larger races can never be truly stymied, and they will inevitably lie to or otherwise turn on their "allies".

Of course, this attitude means few if any races actually like jermlaine. This accounts for their high mortality rate; jermlaine are already close to the bottom of the food chain, being preyed upon by a wide variety of predatory beasts - and even flumphs! - but most clans ultimately anger adventurers or some of the "monstrous humanoids", resulting in them being violently purged with blades and spells. Still, like the rats they resemble, jermlaine continue to survive in the shadows everywhere.

Greyhawk[edit]

The canonical lore of jermlaine on Greyhawk appeared in the article "Legacies of the Suel Imperium" in Dragon Magazine #241. On Oerth, the jermlaine are descendants of gnomes who were originally slaves to a secret society of Suloise wizards, the Inheritors of the Red Gloom, who worshipped the Suloise diety Pyremius. The gnomes desired to pursue Pyremius' worship themselves, and when their masters objected they escaped into the wilderness. Through hideous experiments, they created their own slave race to serve them as spies and guardians, apparently born from a combination of Suloise captives and the flesh of the gnomes themselves. These were the first jermlaine.

The gnomes were destroyed, but the jermlaine have survived, spreading across the world and, it claims, even beyond, with portals leading them to other worlds entirely.

Alternate Names[edit]

Jermlaine have accrued a vast array of names. The printable ones include jinxkin, bane-midges (also spelt "banemidges"), atomites, minimi (singular: minimus), dinkos, globbos, scrabblers, rat-brothers, flappies, flabbies, squakies, squinties, verminites, trapsters, point-heads, mouselings, minimen, tiny terrors, miniscules, manikins, rodent-riders, peewees, diminumen and jermies.

PC Stats[edit]

Jermlaine Dragon 241.jpg

As with their fellow creations of the Suel Imperium, the Derro, the Lerara, the Skulk and the Su-Doppelganger, jermlaine PCs debuted in issue #241 of Dragon Magazine.


Ability Score Minimum/Maximum: Strength 2/8, Dexterity 13/19, Constitution 8/14, Intelligence 3/18, Wisdom 3/18, Charisma 3/18
Ability Score Adjustments: Jermlaine PCs roll Strength as 2d4, Dexterity as 2d4+11, and Consitution as 2d4+6, whilst all other stats are rolled with the normal 3d6.
Available Classes: Thief (16), Multiclassed Cleric/Thief (2/16)
Thieving Skill Racial Adjustments: Pick pockets -30%; open locks -20%; find/remove traps +5%; move silently +40%; hide in shadows +45%; detect noise +30%; climb walls -35%; read languages-(nil, skill cannot be learned).
Natural Armor Class: 7
Movement Base Rate: 15
Special Advantages:
Jermlaine have Infravision 30 feet.
Jermlaine can detect Invisible or hidden creatures within 30 feet, but not ethereal, out-of-phase or astral beings.
Even if blind, a jermlaine can accurately identify an individual person or monster by its odor (if within 30 feet) or voice (if within hearing range) if such a being was ever encountered before. General classes of beings (humans, drow, ropers, bulettes, etc.) can be identified instantly, so a jermlaine can sniff the space under a door to see if any being awaits on the other side. At the DM’s option, however, some dissimilar creatures might smell exactly alike.
Jermlaine have Constitution-based resistances to saving throws against wands, staves, rods and spells, as per Gnomes.
When targeted by an attack that normally inflicts half damage on a successfully saving throw, the jermlaine takes no damage if it succeeds on its saving throw.
Opponents suffer a -5 penalty to their surprise rolls against jermlaine.
Jermlaine suffer no ill effects from non-magical diseases, although they can spread them to others, just like a rat.
Special Disadvantages:
Jermlaine Charisma is capped at 8 when dealing with non-jermlaine.
Jermlaine cannot speak any language other than their own.
Jermlaine size and lack of strength will often impede their ability to affect the world around them.
The weak eyes of a jermlaine cause them to suffer a -2 penalty to attack and saving throw rolls when exposed to sunlight or continual light spells.
Jermlaine can be targeted by spells that specifically target "persons".
Jermlaine cannot become psionic.

Gallery[edit]