Far Corners of the World08/22/2003

Mire and Mud: Monsters of the Wetland

Although the wetlands of the world are fecund with wildlife and plantlife, the true terrors of the stinking fens and endless saltmarshes of the far corners of the world are creatures that make even the boldest adventurers think twice before attacking.

The bog is home to more than just clouds of stinging insects, hungry alligators, and sinister lizardfolk. Strange and terrible creatures indeed lurk in the depths of the marshlands, far hidden from the eyes of civilized folk. Many of these creatures have become infamous in bardic tales and ancient songs; what adventurer hasn't heard about the relentless shambling mound, the ferocious hydra, the hateful will-o'wisp, or the dread black dragon?

Even more of these monsters lurk in the hidden depths, though. These creatures, such as the monstrous toebiter, are merely a part of the swamp's ecosystem (although admittedly a dangerously large and hungry part), while others, like the maanvaki, have established primitive civilizations of their own in the trackless depths of the fen. And then some creatures lurk in the deepest, most dangerous swampland -- creatures of which legends are born and timeless tales of horror are woven. These creatures leave their victims broken and insane, if they leave them alive at all.

Medium Monstrous Humanoid
Hit Dice: 2d8+6 (15 hp)
Initiative: -2
Speed: 20 ft. (4 squares), climb 10 ft., swim 50 ft.
Armor Class: 17 (-2 Dex, +6 natural, +3 studded leather), touch 8, flat-footed 17
Base Attack/Grapple: +2/+6
Attack: Spear +5 melee (1d8+4/x3) or spear +6 ranged (1d8+3)
Full Attack: Spear +6 melee (1d8+4/x3) and bite +1 melee (1d6+1) or spear +6 ranged (1d8+3)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Entangle
Special Qualities: Damage reduction 5/piercing, darkvision 60 ft., improved woodland stride, resistant to critical hits
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +4
Abilities: Str 16, Dex 6, Con 16, Int 7, Wis 12, Cha 15
Skills: Climb +10, Intimidate +3, Listen +5, Spot +5, Swim +9
Feats: Alertness
Environment: Temperate swamp
Organization: Solitary, pair, gang (3-4), or band (11-20 plus 150% noncombatants plus 2 2nd-level sergeants and 1 leader of 2nd-5th level)
Challenge Rating: 2
Treasure: Standard
Alignment: Usually chaotic neutral
Advancement: By character class
Level Adjustment: +4

This humanoid creature has long, powerful arms and legs. Its feet look like flippers. It has a thick neck and a huge crocodilian snout. Bulbous eyes like a frog's protrude from its face, and it possesses great, winglike ears. Its skin is predominantly green with brown splotches and stripes, and thick scales and armor plating cover its chest and back. Numerous loose folds of skin hang down from the chin and arms.

The maanvakis are primitive amphibious humanoids that dwell in the most tangled and overgrown sections of swamps and bogs. Their froglike eyes are each capable of independent movement, which gives them excellent peripheral vision. They have keen hearing as well, thanks to their big ears.

Maanvakis speak Draconic when they must, but they prefer to communicate with grunts and roars. Some bands speak Goblin instead of Draconic.


A maanvaki's combat tactics are simple and to the point; charge in and stab and bite until the enemy stops moving. They prefer to fight with spears, since these weapons are both effective in underwater and tangled terrain and are particularly effective when fighting other maanvaki, who are all quite resistant to damage from slashing and bludgeoning weaponry. The most complex assault they use is to trigger their entangle ability while in melee, which allows them an easy route of escape if things turn sour.

Entangle (Su): Once per day, as a free action, a maanvaki can command the surrounding plantlife to writhe and grasp at anything moving. This duplicates the effects of an entangle spell (caster level 2 + the maanvaki's total class levels, if any; Reflex DC 13). The save DC is Charisma-based. The entangle effect has a radius of 10 feet around the maanvaki and remains stationary if the maanvaki moves out of the area.

Improved Woodland Stride (Ex): A maanvaki may move through any sort of undergrowth at his normal speed without taking damage or suffering any other impairment, even if the undergrowth is magically manipulated.

Resistant to Critical Hits (Ex): Maanvakis have many redundant internal organs, and no two are put together in exactly the same way. This makes it difficult to score critical hits against these resilient creatures. Any time a maanvaki takes additional damage from a critical hit or sneak attack, there is a 25% chance that the additional damage is ignored.

Maanvaki Society

Maanvakisare brutal and warlike, and when there aren't any convenient nearby settlements to attack, they generally turn on themselves. Within a small group, infighting is fairly rare, but intertribal combat is common. They tend to be nomadic, always on the move and sleeping in the wild, if only to keep their enemies constantly guessing where the tribe can be located at any one particular time. Some tribes of maanvaki capture and rear giant swamp lizards or snakes as guards.

Most maanvaki have little time for worship; they usually defer to a tribal adept for what little religious needs they have. In maanvaki society, strength and power rule over the weak. Most maanvaki are barbarians, and this is their favored class.

Monstrous Toebiter
Large Vermin
Hit Dice: 10d8+50 (95 hp)
Initiative: +1
Speed: 20 ft. (4 squares), swim 40 ft.
Armor Class: 18 (-1 size, +1 Dex, +8 natural), touch 10, flat-footed 17
Base Attack/Grapple: +7/+19
Attack: Claw +14 melee (1d6+8)
Full Attack: 2 claws +14 melee (1d6+8) and 1 bite +9 melee (1d8+4)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Blood drain, improved grab, poison
Special Qualities: Camouflage, darkvision 60 ft., vermin traits
Saves: Fort +12, Ref +4, Will +3
Abilities: Str 26, Dex 13, Con 20, Int -- , Wis 10, Cha 2
Skills: Hide -3*, Swim +16
Environment: Temperate swamp
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 7
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: 11-20 HD (Large), 21-30 HD (Huge)
Level Adjustment: --

The creature looks like leaf-shaped monstrous insect at least twice as long as a human is tall. Growths cover and mottle its back. Four of the creature's six legs end in paddle-like feet, but the front two end in huge chitinous hooks. The face is particularly loathsome and is dominated by two huge black eyes and a long, thin, pointed proboscis the size of a rapier.

Despite its somewhat comical name, the monstrous toebiter, also known as the monstrous water bug, is a terrifying predator indeed. Smaller versions of this aquatic bug are notorious for latching onto the feet and toes of unwary waders. The monstrous toebiter might pose such a threat to a giant, but against Medium prey, it poses a much more dangerous threat.

When floating in swampy water, the bug looks remarkably like a partially submerged moss-covered log. When it attacks, the toebiter's long, thin legs extend out in all directions.

Monstrous toebiters are at home in the water, but they do not breathe water. Nevertheless, they can remain underwater indefinitely by extending a long, thin breathing tube from their abdomen up above the surface. Often, this innocuous-looking tube is the only sign above water of a monstrous toebiter's presence


Monstrous toebiters are ambush hunters. They lurk on the edges of large open pools in swamplands and wait for their next meal to move out into the pool before they dart out to attack. Despite their size, they are skilled at hiding in undergrowth, and their coloration makes them especially adept at hiding in swamplands. Once a monstrous toebiter selects its prey, it focuses all of its attacks on that creature and tries to gorge itself with blood as quickly as possible before retreating to its underwater lair to digest its meal.

Blood Drain (Ex): A monstrous toebiter drains blood, dealing 1d4 points of temporary Constitution damage in any round when it begins its turn attached to a living victim. Once it has dealt 16 points of temporary Constitution damage, it lets its prey go and swims off to digest the meal. If its victim dies before the monstrous toebiter's appetite has been sated, the vermin drops the body and seeks a new target.

Improved Grab (Ex): If a monstrous toebiter hits an opponent that is at least one size category smaller than itself with both claw attacks, it deals normal damage and attempts to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If it gets a hold, it automatically hits with its bite, dealing automatic bite damage. Thereafter, the monstrous toebiter has the option to conduct the grapple normally, or simply use its claws to hold the opponent (-20 penalty on grapple check, but the monstrous toebiter is not considered grappled). In either case, each successful grapple check it makes during successive rounds automatically deals bite damage plus poison.

Poison (Ex): A monstrous toebiter delivers its poison (Fortitude save DC 20) with each successful bite attack. The initial and secondary damage is the same (1d6 points of temporary Strength damage).

Vermin Traits: A monstrous toebiter is immune to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns and morale effects). It also has darkvision (60-foot range).

Skills: A monstrous toebiter has a +4 racial bonus on Hide checks. In a swamp or marsh, the monstrous toebiter's coloration and the shape of its body looks just like a small lump of peat moss or mud protruding from the water, and its Hide bonus improves to +20.

Swamp Linnorm
Gargantuan Dragon (Aquatic)
Hit Dice: 22d12+176 (319 hp)
Initiative: +0
Speed: 40 ft. (8 squares), fly 60 ft. (clumsy), swim 60 ft.
Armor Class: 31(-4 size, +25 natural), touch 6, flat-footed 31
Base Attack/Grapple: +22/+45
Attack: Bite +29 melee (4d6+11 plus disease)
Full Attack: Bite +29 melee (4d6+11 plus disease) and 2 claws +27 melee (2d8+5) and tail slap +27 melee (4d6+16)
Space/Reach: 20 ft./20 ft.
Special Attacks: Breath weapon, crush 4d6+16, disease, gaze of madness, spell-like abilities, spells, tail sweep 2d6+16
Special Qualities: Blindsense 60 ft., control undead, damage reduction 10/cold iron, immunity (disease, paralysis, sleep), keen senses, spell resistance 35
Saves: Fort +21, Ref +13, Will +18
Abilities: Str 32, Dex 10, Con 27, Int 15, Wis 20, Cha 18
Skills: Bluff +24, Concentration +28, Diplomacy +6, Intimidate +31, Knowledge (arcana) +22, Knowledge (nature) +27, Listen +32, Search +22, Spellcraft +4, Spot +32, Swim +39
Feats: Ability Focus (breath weapon), Alertness, Cleave, Flyby Attack, Multiattack, Power Attack, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (poison), Snatch
Environment: Any swamp
Organization: Solitary, plus 2d4 bog mummies(treat as normal mummies but without the vulnerability to fire)
Challenge Rating: 24
Treasure: Double standard
Alignment: Always chaotic evil
Advancement: 23-28 HD (Gargantuan)
Level Adjustment: --

The creature resembles a monstrously huge draconic snake, with two powerful forearms but no wings or hind legs. Its tail is long and flat, and it has ridges with hooks and jagged horns. The body and head are matted with thick tangles of mosslike hair. The creature's head resembles that of a massive feral crocodile with powerful jaws filled with ivory fangs.

The linnorms are among the most powerful and dangerous of dragonkind. Feral and almost prehistoric in appearance, these dragons are universally cruel, hateful, and destructive. The Monster Manual II details three types of linnorms. The swamp linnorm presented here is one of the more elusive of these ferocious dragons.

A swamp that serves as a swamp linnorm's lair is immediately recognizable to those who have encountered these creatures before. Large sections of the swamp consist of deep black tarns and vast stretches of mud. Animal life in a region controlled by a swamp linnorm is always minimal, since creatures larger than turtles or birds flee the creature's monstrous hunger. On the other end, plants (especially aquatic ones) are numerous and thick. The only denizens that are commonly found near a swamp linnorm are the leathery-skinned bog mummies that serve it.

A close look at a swamp linnorm reveals that its fangs protrude from its lips, even when the mouth is closed. Thick strands of steaming bile and acid drip from its maw, but most terrifying are its huge, bulging orange eyes that smoke with hatred and madness.

Swamp linnorms are often worshiped as gods by lizardfolk, maanvaki, and other swamp-dwelling creatures. They allow the linnorm to keep a vast tract of swampland as its own territory, and they work frantically to capture sacrifices to throw into the linnorm's territory in a desperate attempt to keep the creature well fed.

Swamp linnorms are amphibious and can breathe both air and water with equal ease.


Swamp linnorms have a vast array of spells and magical abilities they can call on, but they tend to prefer to use their physical attacks and breath weapons in combat. A swamp linnorm makes sure to bite and infect as many of its enemies as it can with the dread decay. Swamp linnorms only rarely encounter creatures that can actually challenge their power, but they are not overconfident and proud enough to underestimate such intruders in their realm. When faced with a challenge, linnorms prefer to send wave after wave of bog mummies against the intruders to soften their foes up while they use their druidic spells to pelt them with damage from afar. If seriously threatened, a linnorm uses its ability to transport via plants to escape and regroup.

Breath Weapon (Su): A swamp linnorm may use its breath weapon once every 1d4 rounds. This weapon manifests as a 100-foot line of boiling acid. This attack deals 6d6 points of fire damage and 6d6 points of acid damage, half on a successful Reflex save (DC 31). The save DC is Constitution-based. On a failed save, a victim is knocked down as well.

Crush (Ex): A flying swamp linnorm can land on opponents three or more sizes smaller than itself as a standard action, using its whole body to crush them. A crush attack affects as many creatures as can fit under the swamp linnorm's body. Each creature in the affected area must succeed at a Reflex save (DC 29) or be pinned, automatically taking 4d6+16 points of bludgeoning damage. The save DC is Constitution-based. Thereafter, if the swamp linnorm chooses to maintain the pin, treat it as a normal grapple attack. While pinned, the opponent takes crush damage each round.

Disease (Ex): Any creature hit by a swamp linnorm's bite attack must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 29), or contract the dread decay. The save DC is Constitution-based. The incubation period is immediate, and the disease deals 2d6 points of temporary Constitution damage and 1d6 points of temporary Charisma damage (see Disease, in the Dungeon Master'sGuide). This terrible disease cannot be cured until the victim is subjected to a dispel evil, after which point any magical means to cure the dread decay will halt its terrible progression. Anyone who dies of the dread decay immediately transforms into a mummy; if you have access to Savage Species, you can simply apply the mummified creature template to the victim.

Gaze of Madness (Su): Anyone within 30 feet of a swamp linnorm who meets the creature's smoking orange eyes must succeed at a Will saving throw (DC 25) or be driven permanently insane (as if by the insanity spell). The save DC is Charisma-based. Swamp linnorms are immune to their own gaze attacks and to those of others of their kind.

Spell-Like Abilities: At will -- fly, control water; 3/day -- poison (DC 18), shapechange, transport via plants; 1/day -- dimension door, forbiddance, horrid wilting (DC 22). Caster level 20th; save DC 14 + spell level. The save DC is Charisma based.

Spells: A swamp linnorm can cast arcane spells as a 17th-level druid. They cannot swap out prepared spells to cast summon nature's ally spells.

Typical Druid Spells Prepared (6/7/6/6/6/5/4/3/2/1; save DC 15 + spell level): 0 -- detect magic, flare (3), know direction, resistance; 1 -- cure light wounds (3), entangle, longstrider, magic fang, obscuring mist; 2 -- bull's strength, fog cloud, gust of wind, resist energy, summon swarm, tree shape; 3 -- call lightning, cure moderate wounds (2), greater magic fang, plant growth, poison; 4 -- command plants, cure serious wounds (2), giant vermin, rusting grasp, scrying; 5 -- baleful polymorph, call lightning storm, cure critical wounds, transmute mud to rock, wall of thorns; 6 -- gatorswarm*, greater dispel magic, summon nature's ally VI, wall of stone; 7 -- control weather, heal, wind walk; 8 -- control plants, summon nature's ally VIII; 9 -- quagmire vortex*.

*This spell is detailed in the previous Far Corners of the World: "Mire and Mud: Spells of the Wetland."

Tail Sweep (Ex): A swamp linnorm can sweep with its tail as a standard action. The sweep affects creatures four or more size categories smaller than the linnorm within a 20-foot-radius half-circle centered on the linnorm's rear. Each affected creature that fails a Reflex save (DC 29 half) takes 2d6+16 points of damage. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Control Undead (Su): A swamp linnorm can control undead as a 20th-level evil cleric. It uses this ability to command any bog mummies created by its bite.

Keen Senses (Ex): A swamp linnorm sees four times as well as a human in low-light conditions and twice as well in normal light. It also has darkvision with a range of 120 feet.

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