Wood Imps are a forgotten species of fairy hailing from the Dungeons & Dragons setting of Mystara, first appearing in the Creature Catalogue in 1986. They are one of the many fey races detailed in the splatbook "Tall Tales of the Wee Folk", and have never appeared since then, save for when they were updated to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the Mystara Appendix for the Monstrous Compendium.
Believed to have their roots in an offshoot of the leprechaun race possessed of a distinctly evil streak, the wood imps were born when these fey chose to inhabit Stalkbrow, a powerful locus of evil magic in the Forest of Canolbarth, one of the largest "sylvan woods" on Mystara. It stoked their greed, their love of senseless violence, and their general delight in wickedness, until the Archfey could no longer stomach them and booted them out.
They have since degenerated into a creature more or less akin to a goblin. Averaging 18 to 24 inches in height, these green-skinned, long-eared, needle-toothed humanoids retain no inherent fey magic; instead, a select few of them are willing to seek patronage from the Immortals of Entropy, Mystara's equivalent to Demon Princes and Archdevils, and become Shamans. Their only allies are the oversized spiders they trains as steeds.
It goes without saying, but wood imps have become twisted, malevolent creatures. They are hunter-gatherers who readily supplement their takings with banditry, and their desired terrain of tangled, befouled woodlands full of rot, death and decay leads to them frequently conflicting with their former relatives - which they relish, as they are jealous of what they have lost and eagerly seek to turn their sadistic wrath on other fairies. Wood imp tribes will chop down the trees of dryads and hamadryads, poison treants, kill animals for sport, damage healthy trees, and introduce diseases and parasites that befoul the woods they have stalked.
Wood imp "tribes" are loose gatherings of wood imps held together by personal strength. Shamans are no better than the chieftains, and often lead internal tribal schisms to try and seize control. Although shamans are respected for their power, the race has no deep capacity for faith; the closest equivalent in wood imp for "blasphemy" translates, politely, as "something that upset an Immortal or shaman so much that they caused you great inconvenience in return". As you might expect, this highly fractious race frequently wars amongst itself, and these intercine squabbles keep them mostly out of the way of other races.
But... not all wood imps are irredeemable, and as such, there are a few who have managed to shrug off the malevolence of their race. This means wood imps are a playable race.
The Mystara MCA states that wood imps have diversified enough to produce two subspecies; the equally unpleasant swamp-dwelling Bog Imp, which uses its copious mane of green hair and back-hair to disguise itself as swamp grass, and the and the less malevolent but still selfish and unpredictable Garden Imp, which sets itself up as a guardian of lush gardens that have been abandoned or allowed to run wild and may potentially align itself with the garden's owner.
The bog imp returned in 3rd edition in the book Heroes of Horror though with very different lore. This version instead are corrupted elves that can make people sink into the ground with their gaze to drown them, which turns the victim into a new bog imp if they are an elf.
The default Wood Imp PC is, functionally, a Fighter, save for its unique experience level. Wood imps can wield any magic items permitted to fighters, can wear any armor and use any weapon of appropriate size, are culturally permitted to use giant spider venom on their weapons, and gain surprise on a d6 roll of a 1-3 when in forests. They have a d4 hit dice.
- Level: Experience Points: Hit Dice
- 1: 800, 2d4
- 2: 1,600, 3d4
- 3: 3,200, 3d4
- 4: 6,400, 4d4
- 5: 12,800, 5d4
- 6: 25,000, 6d4
- 7: 50,000, 7d4
- 8: 100,000, 8d4
- 9: 200,000, 9d4
- 10: 360,000, 10d4
- 11: 520,000, 10d4+2
Progressing further requires 160,000 XP per level and grants +2 HP per level.
A wood imp PC with a Wisdom of 14 can become a Shaman. This is a kind of multiclassing, requiring extra experience points per shaman level and granting access to a specific level of spellcasting. Wood imps can only reach 4th level as Shamans. Full rules for shamans were introduced in the Master DM's Book, but faerie spellcasters have their own experience table:
- Spellcasting Level: Extra Experience Required
- 1: 1,000 XP
- 2: 2,000 XP
- 3: 4,000 XP
- 4: 8,000 XP
- 5: 16,000 XP
- 6: 32,000 XP
- 7: 64,000 XP
- 8: 130,000 XP
- 9: 260,000 XP
Each subsequent level requires +200,000 XP Getting to the root of the matter... these are some of the overall racial ideas I've had.
|Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition Races|
|Basic Set:||Dwarf - Elf - Hobbit - Human|
|Creature Catalog 1:||Brownie - Centaur - Dryad - Faun - Hsiao |
Leprechaun - Pixie - Pooka - Redcap - Sidhe
Sprite - Treant - Wood Imp - Wooddrake
|Creature Catalog 2:||Faenare - Gnome - Gremlin - Harpy |
Nagpa - Pegataur - Sphinx - Tabi
|Creature Catalog 3:||Kna - Kopru - Merrow - Nixie |
Sea Giant - Shark-kin - Triton
|Dragon Magazine:||Cayma - Gatorman - Lupin - N'djatwa |
Phanaton - Rakasta - Shazak - Wallara
|Hollow World:||Beastman - Brute-Man - Hutaakan |
Krugel Orc - Kubitt - Malpheggi Lizard Man
|Known World:||Bugbear - Goblin - Gnoll |
Hobgoblin - Kobold - Ogre - Troll