The Goat in the Queen’s Wood (Pt. 2)

The previous Eldritch Icons post for Shub-Niggurath described her conflict with the Elf Queen and gave a background on her description in literature. Now, let’s take a look at some of plot hooks her introduction might produce and what kind of beasts you’ll find fighting on her side.

Plot Hooks

Havoc Among the Halflings: the noxious influence of the Wood is extending into one of the Halfling towns that sit near its borders (Old Town, Twist, or Burrow on the map). This may include attacks by The Goat’s minions or a taint spreading among the Halflings or their farms/livestock. Can you quarantine it? Or is hope lost and should you cover their retreat?

Dealings With the Drow: the [insert icon of your choice here, probably Emperor/Archmage] has heard that the Drow are battling this new influence. They seek information and/or an alliance. You are dispatched, but what will it take to win the trust of the Drow?

Relic Retrieval: something of great value was left behind when the Court of Stars departed. Your party is on a quest to retrieve it.

The Queen’s Quest: someone who has a positive icon relationship with the Queen receives a parting message from her. You are to a) retrieve an item (see above), or b) be her champion in reclaiming the Wood, or c) stop the spread of the blight, or d) your own inspiration.

Delving for Dholes: When a Dhole strikes at the heart of Concord (or one of the Halfling towns, if you prefer), your party is dispatched through the tunnels to find the source.

Servitors and Allies

Some of The Goat’s servitors come from the mythos. Other races she has corrupted or allied with were already in the 13th Age.

Dark Young

As the Goat With a Thousand Young, she must have some kind of Young along with her. Paizo has published a stat-block for huge, high-level Dark Young. If your party is at a lower level, you may want to reduce these or split it up into smaller Dark Young.

Much of how we picture the Dark Young of The Goat is taken from Chaosium’s decision to adapt Robert Block’s description of Shoggoths into Dark Young for its Call of Cthulhu RPG. A character hears the sound “shub n***** ath,” indicating The Goat’s connection to these creatures. The narrator also discovers hoofprints, solidifying the logic for a goaty connection. So while the creatures are definitively identified as shoggoths by characters in the story, they have become the Dark Young of gaming.

The Call of Cthulhu Anniversary Edition book describes Dark Young on pages 154-155:

These beings are enormous writing masses formed out of ropy black tentacles. Here and there over the surfaces of the things are great puckered mouths which drip with green goo. Beneath the creatures, tentacles end in black hooves on which they stamp. The monsters roughly resemble trees in silhouette—the trunks being the short legs, and the tops of the trees represented by the ropy branching bodies. The whole mass of these things smell like open graves. Dark young stand between 12 and 20 feet tall.

Given their lack of real description in the mythos writings, however, GMs should feel free to break from this tradition and describe Dark Young as they see fit. Actual goat-like creatures? Swarms of tiny tentacled-things overpowering the party? Great, shaggy beasts?

Chaos Beasts

Chaos Beasts couldn’t get more mythos-esque if they tried. Whether they’re The Goat’s minions or simply found her chaotic arrival as an excellent time to manifest in the Wood, they’re a threat to aventurers, Drow, and the poor Halfings who are just trying to go about their lives.

See the Bestiary, pp.38-41 for Chaos Beast stats.

Corrupted Drow

An important part of this scenario is the Drow’s shadow campaign against The Goat. However, just as her presence taints the wood, so it may also turn some of the Drow. If you’ve chosen to play with non-black Drow (the Bestiary and other 13th Age sources suggest dark blue and albino white as logical skin colors), this may be the time add black veins or horrible motifs to indicate their taint. Perhaps they are the above-mentioned cultists and the only way The Goat could have undermined the Queen’s power.

If not corrupting actual Drow, you may also choose to use their Spider Mounts’ stats for evil forest spiders, in the theme of Ungoliant.

See the Bestiary, pp. 57-62 for Drow and Drow Spider Mount stats.

Cultists

Whether these cultists are human or other, whether they’re necromancers or have a variety of skills, they’re bad business. In fact, they may well be the forces behind the summoning of The Goat in the first place. Stop their ritual, destroy their sacreligious shrines, and uproot them from the Wood. Do they form their own Court of Corruption in place of the Court of Stars?

Dholes

…whatever it was, it seemed of an abnormal length unless it was several creatures in a row. Again I caught a glimpse of something albino white, bleached and glistening, and for some reason my breath caught in my throat and I felt the sick clamminess of fear. Then suddenly the white thing reared up against the wall of the house, and I saw that it had no limbs, no limbs at all, and the—size of the thing!—

— Lin Carter, “Dreams in the House of Weir”

Dholes are entirely alien to the denizens of the 13th Age, although perhaps they have lived on this planet for millenea and may have featured in previous ages. To your adventurers, they might look like limbless proto-Deep Bulettes (13 True Ways, p.28). They’re Huge in size, a sickly greenish-white and mushy-appearing, but they absorb a lot of damage before they begin to show wear. Parts of a Dhole taking may come off in globules. Only their faces are defined, with large snouts that give them an excellent tracking sense. There’s no hiding from a Dhole, as they can track you from underground and legends on other planets say that they can sense you in your dreams.

Fungaloids

While in the past Fungaloids may have been neutral in the Queen’s eyes, another part of the forest, these creatures now act with a terribly malignity toward the Wood. You may find them deliberately draining the life from trees where they stand. There are entire portions of the Wood where mats of mushrooms cover everything that meets the eye. You may have to clear a path, but beware, tampering with these toadstools may forewarn the Fungaloids of your approach.

See the Bestiary, pp. 82-87 for Fungaloid stats.

Twilight Treants

The roots of these treants absorbed the foul contagion that issues forth from the abode of the black goat. They, like the trees of the wood, have turned black as pitch and their personalities have been likewise corrupted. What green vitality they may have possessed before has been erased, as has their loyalty to anything in the forest but their new mistress and her minions.

See 13 True Ways, pp. 202-203 for Treant stats. However, consider changing vulnerability to fire to vulnerability to Holy damage.