Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Monster Abuse - The Vegepygmy For Old School Fantasy & Post Apocalyptic Campaigns

Is there a more favorite monster of mine then the humble, dangerous, & highly underrated Vegepygmy? Umm probably not, these are some of the most dangerous monsters that a DM can throw at a party and they're so easy to use especially for post apocalyptic or science fantasy games. First appearing in 1980's 'Expedition to the Barrier Peaks' where I first came across them. The Vegepygmy has been and continues to be one of the most underrated monsters from the Monster Manual II where they next appeared in '83. Standing at only three feet tall these creatures are completely and utterly alien to humanity. Let me repeat that, despite their humanoid appearance these monsters are utterly alien.

The Monster Manual II gives a really good and more then disturbing entry on the Vegepygmy. While these bastard monsters do organize in tribal fashion, they center their 'settlements' around the sources of protein and meat. 'Meat' in this case is a flexible term that can mean anything from animals, humans, to dead things.  They have far more in common with certain real world fungus then the the 'Vege' part would imply ; these include the more than 200 species have been described in belonging to the phyla AscomycotaMucoromycotina, and Basidiomycota. But the fungus connections don't end there according to the Monsterous Manual entry;"A vegepygmy is created when a humanoid is slain by russet mold, the victim's body transforming into a new creature.".  So these things could show up just about anyplace, anytime period, & any time period  to cause havoc in a wide variety of venues and settings. How might you ask? Well the life cycle of these things is tied into Russet Molds.

According to the D20 SRD under the Russet mold entry; "The mold  is immune to cold and fire. Acid-based effects, alcohol (at least one gallon per foot diameter of mold), continual flame or remove disease instantly destroys russet mold." This is because the mold is an infection and possibly a weapon of mass destruction left over from a war of the Gods. But that's entry for another time or is it? The Vegepygmy is a perfect monster across the board when you want to mock humanity or destroy humanity  from a distance as a dungeon master. Here are ten reasons for doing so:
  1. These things are like humans but completely and utterly alien, they get along with lots of plant life including Shriekers. This mean  the Vegepygmy settlements will have  Shriekers and violet fungi who often work together to attract and kill prey. When the shriekers' hellish racket attracts a curious creature or creatures in a dungeon or wilderness setting. You are going to see lots of plant monsters and fungus creatures abounding within the Vegepygmy territory locally. 
  2. The  Vegepygmy is the perfect cross over monster for a science fantasy post apocalyptic game campaign and setting. These are the perfect monsters to add plant mutations to and create endless varieties of these bastards. 
  3. The Russet mold is the key to these monsters existence and the infection that creates them. This means that when a mold shows up and some poor victim gets hit by the spores your going to see lots of Vegepygmies showing up. 
  4. The Monster Manual Two entry says that although they can be found underground they might also be found in dark forests. Well I can honestly say that I've used these things on alien jungle worlds, deep temperate forests, and all kinds of settings especially Gamma World and Mutant Future adventures and even Carcosa. These things are perfect for Carcosa because you can vary the mutations creating adaptations of them. 
  5. Tucker's Kobold's formula can easily and should be be applied to the Vegepygmy. Trips, traps, and more should used by these monsters and adding in fungus, slimes and molds can add in even more alien variety to these horrors.
  6. Do some research into fungus and other real world  plant based species. Pick your favorite and then apply these to the creatures. 
  7. The recent Narcosa setting with its plane of drugs and other god like psychoactive substances and drugs is a perfectly deadly tie in to use with the Vegepygmy
  8. The Russet mold is the central pillar of the Vegepygmy's existence and god, there was speculation among one of the various OSR or Pathfinder boards that it was a WMD from an interstellar or  mythological war of the gods or god like aliens. We all know it was because of the Expedition To The Barrier Peak's module and once again it ties back to the science fantasy roots of  D&D & AD&D. 
  9.  The Vegepygmy is a nice tie back monster for a wide variety of old school plant monsters that appeared in D&D and come after you do. These are perfect monsters to ape and mock the Ancients who were here and had a fabled golden age in a setting but are now gone. The Vegepygmy  has taken their place. 
  10. These are also a really nasty surprise to place in dungeons and ruins where they can infect and cause havoc with parties. Although they do keep fungus like 'dog' creatures called thornies. The fact is the alieness and 'other' factor of the Vegepygmy is what has really weirded out players over the years. Yes I've used these creatures for many years now.

Another thought is that these bastards can be used in the various AD&D Hells as a monster to be met, their alien evolution might allow them to adapt to a wide variety of adverse conditions. They can also be used as a Lovecraftian monster whose insidious nature allows them to take over and replace humanity.  The Vegepygmy is an D20 OGL monster so its easily adapted into a wide variety of retroclones and old school settings. They remain one of my all time favorites to use in my home games

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