The New Dark Jungle Bestiary
March 30, 2012
Back when creating the Mahjong Tile Dark Jungle Sandbox Generation System, I didn’t put much effort towards populating that setting with new monsters. Most of the monsters there I had recycled from the Fire in the Jungle Supplement. I was in a monster-makin’ mood this week, so decided to give the Dark Jungle setting its own roster of nasties and uglies. Here’s the Dark Jungle bestiary so far…
These large amphibians are named for their preferred mode of ambush: hiding high in a tree and letting their unbelievably long tongue hang down over a path like a vine, waiting for a victim to brush past. Only highly skilled jungle travelers are able to spot their tongue among a tangle of vines covering a path, and the Licking Toad is known to snatch men, women, and children as snacks. Even outside of their usual ambush tactic their tongues are deadly ranged weapons, striking with great accuracy. Licking Toad skin is highly valued for its medicinal properties. The skin is poisonous if eaten raw, but can be dried, shredded, and smoked for a psychedelic and other effects. The tongues are a delicacy, often sliced and eaten raw with a ball of sticky rice.
This is a massive jungle whale-thing that glides through the canopy, gobbling up birds and insects as if they were plankton. It’s blubber is very rot resistant and usually harvested as blocks. Often an incision is made into a block and items are inserted for storage and preservation. The blubber is also an excellent insulator, keeping contents warm or cold for long periods. Oil rendered from the blubber is of high quality and burns clean.
This massive sloth will latch onto its prey with a hug, inserting its great hook claws into their body like jumper cables, then send a powerful current of electricity though the unfortunate victim. Then the sloth devours its meal in a gruesome display of creative destruction, cleanses itself meticulously in a river, and hibernates for a month or two until it gets hungry again. Shamen and wizards have been yet unable to unlock the secrets of the sloth’s electrifying attack, but it’s hook claws are highly valued as surgical instruments.
These large birds are entirely black, except for a bony and bald red crown. They attack by first puffing their feathers to give the bird a spherical shape, then ramming their victims head-on from above. If the ramming itself doesn’t kill the target, the impacts releases a cloud of asbestos-like feather dust that causes deadly internal bleeding if the victim breaths in it. The meat is good-eating, like chicken, but what is most highly valued are the feathers, which is made into a variety of consumer products found in every home back in the empire’s cities.
This alligator climbs a tree and blends in perfectly due it’s uncanny resemblance to a log. Then it falls onto its victims with tremendous pile-driving force. It’s very startling to see this log open its mouth to reveal rows of flesh-ripping teeth. The hide of fallogators are highly valued due to a current fashion trend in parlor furniture. Their skull is always in demand and makes for a good urn, due to its unique shape and shock resistance. (The Fallogator was inspired by the illustration of Gygax’s Log to Lizard spell in Isle of the Ape, and also Justin’s “Crubber”.)
This buffalo-like creature has a long body to accommodate its eight legs. Its spiked hooves enable it to crawl up and around trees like a caterpillar, grazing on the tastiest of foliage. Despite being a herbivore, Octs are ferocious fighters when cornered or injured and will eat their victims out of spite. They use their great size to deadly effect, thrashing their long body about and impaling attackers with their sharp horns. They are a major meat source for many humans and predators in the Dark Jungle. A single octs hide is sufficient to create an excellent canoe.
These amigos have a wingspan of no more than 2.54 centimeters, but they swarm around in the millions and there’s nothing you can do about them as they strip your flesh to the bone. When natives and jungle men are able to catch a basket full of these tiny bats, they cook up an excellent soup and there is much rejoicing. Keep boiling the soup and it becomes a high grade glue.
Watching this huge golden primate gracefully swing through the Dark Jungle sub-canopy is an experience of singular magnificence. Just don’t get too close, as the King Gibbon is capable of swift and stunning brutality. With its twenty foot long arms and legs, it can travel at very high speeds through the jungle and can be on you before you are able to decide: “Is that a huge monkey a mile away, or a small monkey just a few feet away?” Sinew made from its tendons and ligaments is very useful and spools of it trade at high prices.
More than just a cross between a warthog and an ibex, these angry antelopes are capable of legendary feats of agility and stubbornness. They can leap wide chasms and spaces between trees, deftly landing sideways, upside down, and occasionally right side up on high tree limbs. They can also wallow in deep mud and breath through their horns. They are incredibly immune to physical damage and perhaps the only way to kill them is decapitation. Even then, the headless body is dangerous in blind stampede and the ornately-horned head is able to bounce around and continue fighting for a minute or so. It’s antlers and ivory tusks are much sought after for the production of tea services.
The fur color patterns on these massive cats is extremely effective in the Dark Jungle environment. Calico Panthers are always female and there are no known male panthers in the Dark Jungle. When not fulfilling their usual role as stoic and unmatched predators of the jungle, they like to purr and rub up against large trees and generally behave like mischievous house cats. Jungle men have an inordinate desire to collect their claws and wear them as a symbol of their masculinity. Huts of native jungle nomads are often constructed from a single Calico Panther pelt.