Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On Grems

Grems. Pretty much my favorite creatures from our current game. So far, anyhow. I mean, they wear stilts. All of them. All the time.

Grem Scavenger (Level 1 Fighter)
Original grem sketch.

Size/Type Small Humanoid
Hit Dice 1d8 +1  (7 hp)
Initiative           +1
Speed 40'
Armor Class 14 (+1 size, +1 Dex, +2 leather armor)
Base Attack +1
Attack Stilt +2 melee (1d6) or Crossbow +3 ranged (1d4)
Full Attack Stilt +2 melee (1d6) or Crossbow +3 ranged (1d4)
Space/Reach 5 ft. / 5 ft.
Spcl Attacks Trip
Spc Qualities          Darkvision 60 ft.
Saves Fort +3 Ref +1 Will -1
Abilities Str 11 Dex 13 Con 12 Int 10 Wis 9 Cha 6
Skills Hide +5 Listen +2 Move Silently +5 Spot +2 Balance +5
Feats Alertness
Environment Any
CR 1 / 3

These squat, demihuman creatures are possessed of a low cunning and a vicious territoriality that have made them a recognized menace throughout the Crucible wastes. They are largely thought to be a genetically uplifted variant of the horned desert toad, mostly due to their disproportionately large mouths and the small knobs and spines that dot their mottled yellow hides, though many Mesa scholars claim that they are more likely a highly mutated offshoot of humans. 
In addition to their origin, the reason that the grems seem to have adopted stilts universally remains unclear. It is thought that like the natural defenses of certain animals such as the frilled lizard or blowfish, the short-statured grems use the stilts to appear larger than they are and to dissuade predators. Regardless of the reason, a Grem is rarely seen without his stilts, and after the first few years of life, they are nearly incapable of walking without them. 
Grems breed and grow with incredible rapidity, and the practice of binding hatchlings with short 'training' stilts just days after birth has resulted in a nearly universal cultural affliction of clubbed and useless feet. Despite this, when fitted with it's stilts, a Grem is capable of moving with almost unsettling speed and grace.  The Grem's familiarity with  and affinity for it's stilts are such that they are considered 'natural' weapons, and their tendency to decorate their stilts with bits of colorful, broken glass and metal scraps makes them even more dangerous.
Most Grems live in small, independant tribes - claiming abandoned buildings at the outskirts of populated areas as their own, and defending them fiercely with a variety of scavenged and makeshift weapons along with traps of surprising complexity and lethality.
Grems tend to dress themselves in poorly cured leathers reinforced with chicken wire and scrap metal along with scavenged scraps of brightly colored cloth. They also appear to have an attraction to hats. Their attire can give them a bedraggled, clownish appearance, but it would be a mistake to think them any less dangerous.
Grems do have a rudimentary language of their own, though they as often as not use scraps of Common, mashed together seemingly at random. They appear to collect bits and pieces of language from old radio signals and billboards the way rats hoard shiny baubles. Their nonsensical utilization of these language fragments can make a Grem attack even more unsettling, as they excitedly extol the virtues of Extra Strength Dran-O as they try to shove a knife into your belly.

Of course, grems will arm themselves with whatever they can steal or scavenge. The PC's thus far have run into grems wielding broken bottles, rusty kitchen knives, ramshackle tommy guns, molotov cocktails, and more. I've also had great fun in providing the grems their garbled language, picking random movie quotes or advertising catch phrases as appropriate (or inappropriate, as it were).
For the tabletop, I've been using whatever assorted goblin miniatures I have on hand standing on spare d6s to indicate the stilts, along with the one completed grem mini I made a while back, the fellow in the tophat there. I picked up a couple of blisters of goblins from Reaper Miniatures by John Manor with the intent of converting the whole lot into be-stilted mutant monsters, but until recently they've just sat forlornly on my WIP shelf awaiting attention. I picked these particular minis because I thought their facial expressions were great, and fit the half-insane look I wanted for my grems. As the PC's move into the next part of the story, airships are going to have a greater presence, including a lengthy quest that will lead them to obtaining one of their own. That said, I wanted to bring the grems back from the level 1 closet and find a way to make them a viable threat again. The how of that I'll cover in a later post, but needless to say - the time has come to finish up Tophat's fellows.
I've finished the converting, carving, and modelling at this point - here they are, ready for me to throw some paint at them. I'll post up the results in the near future.

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