Thursday, March 7, 2019

Murders of the Night - The Lovecraftian Ecology of the Kamadan For Your Old School Campaigns

 Blink Dogs vs Displacer Beast. (AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, TSR, 1979.)

Today has been one of those days where I haggled my way through the imaginary landscape of the more forgotten parts of imaginary old school campaign landscape. I went over lots of different notes & half remembered bits including the sectors of the planes where the Coeurl interstellar empire once flourished billions of years ago.  A. E. van Vogt (1912–2000) wrote about them in his first published short story "Black Destroyer" (1939), later incorporated in the novel The Voyage of the Space Beagle (1950). Advanced Dungeons & Dragons would use them for the famed Displacer Beast which are but a pale image of the advanced & vast intellect of the Coeurl. Here's a quick description of the cat like intelligent race from their wiki entry; 
 "The species' appearance is comparable to a large cat, except in that its forelegs are twice as long as its hind legs, and it possesses tentacles attached to its shoulders that terminate in suction cups. Its skin coloration is not mentioned (except as implied by the title), but was depicted as black in the cover art for its original magazine appearance.[1] It sustains itself by feeding upon a substance it calls the Id of other beings.

The species appears indifferent to environment and can survive in different atmospheres. It can manipulate EM radiation (referred to as "electric vibrations" in the story) at will and seems to communicate via that method."

The Voyage of the Space Beagle - A.E. van Vogt, cover by Gerry Daly

For my campaigns  
the Coeurl interstellar empire was a vast & very aggressive. The  Coeurl interstellar empire used a number of genetically engineered bio weapon species made from their own RNA & DNA to obliterate a number of other alien races. The Eld had dealings with them & their aggression brought them into conflict with their minions the  Huldra ("hidden being") or Elves of traditional Dungeons & Dragons. They routed the cat like Coeurl & their displacer beast minions with the help of the pack tribes of Blink Dogs. The Blink Dog were bred by the original Elven god beings for sniffing out the Coeurl & any of their creations.

The Coeurl are nearly immortal & have adapted themselves to any number of living conditions including the depths of space itself. With a good source of 'id' they can sustain themselves indefinitely. Here & there are found the occasional remaining Coeurl guardian scattered across the universe & beyond the ancient dimensional planar gateways woe be to the adventurer who stumbles upon one. 

This brings me to one of the  Coeurl interstellar empire's most frightening creations from the AD&D 1st edition Fiend Folio the Kamadan! Weighing in at five hundred pounds & three meters tall at the shoulders. These powerful alien hunters are the stalkers & killers of alien jungles from the belt of Orion all the way deep into the remains of the dreaded Sna system. 

The  Kamadan is a terror weapon designed to instill fear in an enemy population by murdering food animals, valuable live stock, & persons of interest  on the fringes of civilization. They are stealth & dangerous hunters capable of using a variety of specialized organs to track & kill prey as needed. The six serpents arrayed around the shoulders actually act as a sensor web capable of picking up the smallest amount of blood on the wind. They can track a specific prey over five hundred miles with the merest trace of blood & then attack with an aggressiveness rarely seen outside of the dreaded displacer beasts.

The Kamadan has been found in the alien jungles of the Dreamlands & stalking the lonely byways of Hyperborea. The monster is cunning & dangerous using its sleeping gas ability to murder people in the night often ambushing prey easily. Once the prey is rendered unconscious the monster breaks its neck with a powerful & swift bite.

Wizkids D&D Icons of The realms, Tomb of Annihilation, Kamadan #27 ...
The Kamadan  often takes trophies from their victims & hangs them where they can be found by relatives & strangers. This is often done to attract more prey which is then murdered & dragged off. They often have small hoards of trinkets  & valuable baubles from which to draw from for prey. Valuables are often displaced within 'easy reach' so that the monster can murder its victims while they attempt to recover the item or small treasure. 
Because of their supernaturally sharp senses the Kamadan often hunted around the 
pseudo planar doorways known as fairy rings. Often when these places were used for planar teleporation the Kamadan lie in wait for the right moment to strike. 

 Kamadan are solitary hunters often only working with a mate or the occasional pride which has up to four individuals. The most dire of circumstances will force these monsters to work together. Solitarily the Kamadan work to cause as much mayhem & fear in prey as they can. These monsters have been known to work with the Formorians as mercenary scouts & guardians for incredible bribes & the like. 

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