Welcome to our sixth foray into the Dreamscape. The last part covered the key locations on the plane and paths between those locations. I’m taking a slight break from filling out the remaining half of the locations to mix it up a bit. This will the be first of a series of slightly shorter posts that cover the inhabitants of the plane, creatures, peoples, notable figures etc. Gives me a chance to stretch different creative muscles. This episode covers the lumbering giants known as the Grorn. They are inspired by various fairy tales, myths and my own mad thoughts.
The other parts of the articles relating to the dreamscape are listed below and will be linked when they are complete:
- Part 1 – Background and Entrances
- Part 2 – Adventuring
- Part 3 – Journeys, Environs and Hazards
- Part 4 – Map and Regions
- Part 5 – Key Locations: A-D, E-J, K-S, T-Z
- Part 6 – Inhabitants
- Part 7 – Items and Objects
- Part 8 – Appendix of useful tables
The giants known as the Grorn were once proud but are long since fractured and forlorn. In the far past, they raised many of the great mountains, plateaus, islands and other structures in the dreamscape. Their landcraft was unmatched, beautiful and resistant to the plane’s fickle whims of change. Shaping the earth and sky they built grand lodges in which to dwell and took ancestral names from the names of these great homes. From all over the Dreamscape and beyond, emissaries, trade and opulence came to the mighty Grorn Lodges. Centuries passed, new civilisations arose, the Grorn sent more ambassadors and more riches flowed. For uncounted years, all was harmony, until a Grorn sang a song of their lands in a covetous court. This court did not want trade, this court wanted all the riches of the grorn. The ambassador’s head was taken, his horns cut, a message sent to kneel. And so, the peace and plenty of the Grorn became mining, manufacture and war. They cut deeper and deeper into their land, bleeding it of raw materials for combat. Deep in the earth they discovered rich, dark seams of Shadow Diamonds, mutating vapours and black iron. The weaker Lodges advocated their use and the diamonds whispered greed and glory. Deeper, wider, wounding excavations were made. With this power from the black earth, the Grorn won their war. The covetous court was defeated but there was not much left to covet. From the ashes, a bitter civil war broke forth that pitted lodge against lodge and shattered all hope of ever rebuilding. Now giant bodies lie buried in vast mounds and cyclopean sepulchres, the Grorn fractured and changed. Those who eschewed the wounded earth’s charms cling to folk memories of a halcyon civilisation. Meanwhile, their tainted siblings strike at them from the deeps.
The following traits are common amongst the Grorn but are indicative only. In particular, outside of Grorn Wound and its surrounds less traditional cultures are the norm. Grorn often:
- Are austere, resigned to solitude and keep company only with the ancient Mourn Songs, haunting melodies of loss. Particularly melancholy songs can be exchanged for travel with or service from a Grorn. Rare, great Grorn choirs are sometimes assembled, their solemn voices echoing for miles around. They are often fond of singing and unwary bards may be scooped up and taken home as pets.
- Have an affinity for medicine and alchemy. Some ancient Grorn claim to have taught these secrets to early inhabitants of the material plane. These skills engendered many failed attempts to cure the Afflicted of their plight. However, they did result in the rare and valuable panacea – Hulmash.
- Have a skill with craft, mining, refinement and minerals. A rare few posses the Landcrafting talents of their ancestors and are able to shape the land through force of will and special focal tools.
- Feel an intimate connection with the heavens and the cycles of Bright Moon and Black Sun. Many curses and blessings in their language revolve around these: ‘May you wane well’, ‘A year of dark light on you and your kin’ and so forth.
- Share a deep affinity with birds and the bird-like peoples of the coast. May sport bird nest hats, keep an aviary or simply be followed by large numbers of birds.
- Display a wariness of the great structures of their past. Instead preferring caves, mountain tops and delvings hollowed from the earth. Some however, still reside in the ruined Lodges of their ancestors.
- Seek to live in sympathy with nature.
Afflicted Grorn have other commonalities, mostly of a darker kind. Afflicted Grorn often:
- Display cruelty, greed and lust for power.
- Collect and stockpile treasure and goods but hoards are often esoteric rather than simply gold and jewels.
- Defer or demure to another who possesses more Shadow Diamonds. However, they may seek to take them for themselves.
- Share an affinity with lizards, snakes and other reptiles.
- Tend corrupt gardens of sickly plants. They can be botanists who produce ungodly hybrids and dangerous new genera.
- Show a penchant for solitude may be warped into pathological hate for other creatures.
- Dabble in dark sorcery and afflict the sleeping with nightmares.
- Attempt to control their darker natures and some are less lost to monstrous impulses. A rare few even attain a divine-like aura of contentment that leads others to follow them.
Myths of the Grorn
Grorn myths of creation emphasise their primacy and arrival at the beginning of things. In truth however, wishful thoughts have shaped beautiful sculptures from barely remembered and broken myths. Disagreement often occur between Grorn about which myths are true, which are only tales and which versions of a myth is correct. The Grorn’s beliefs are as fractured as they are:
- Ancestor Gangen captured the sun and placed it into the heavens. He watched from the moon as its light brought other peoples to the world. When Gangen was slain, his blood splashed to earth and created the dreamscape for his descendants. In other tales:
- He separated the moon from the earth by carving it from a great stone and hurling it into the sky.
- He let himself be wounded but only pretended to die.
- His pick axe is buried in and indestructible rock in glistening cavern deep beneath the dreamscape.
- He drank the sun’s fire and used it to create a great forge within which the first Grorn Bracelets were made.
- Gangen slumbers under the dreamscape and keeps the heavens and it in place.
- Shafakote, the Queen of many Lodges before the fall, was wounded in a battle with creatures from the Void. In return for being saved by the Dream King, she serves as the greatest guardian at the entrance to the Inscape.
- Shafakote and Gangen were the same person or were related.
- She was the first to embrace the dark of the Shadow Diamonds.
- They inhabited the material plane until a great foe or calamity caused them to flee to the dreamscape.
- They are the fathers of all giant kind. The Stone Giants kept the craft, the Fire Giants kept the power to destroy, the Cloud Giants kept the songs, the Wave Giants kept the bonds while the Blood Brethren were lost to the changing.
- They ruled the other giants and were overthrown.
- The other giants were created through dark magics.
- The other giants are the dreams of the Grorn.
- They invented metallurgy and mining and taught this to the smaller races.
- When the smaller races used these things for war it corrupted the Grorn’s hearts and they fled the material to escape. Small people cannot be trusted.
- One day the Grorn will return to the great structures they left on the material plane. They will unearth the buried lodges, reclaim the floating citadels and drink the seas to reveal the sunken states.
- The fabled City of Aeons far west of Rechtroon will be their capital.
- Fourteen stone tablets must be assembled and the Mourn Songs of all peoples must be sung.
- The covetous court that caused the Grorn’s downfall was: the realm of an Archfey / creatures from out of the world / Tethite / a mortal empire / a Draconic conclave.
- The downfall was a punishment for forsaking the gods and challenging them in craft and wealth.
These towering figures loom over the other inhabitants of Ulla Machok. Their eyes are as big as sifting pans and sparkle with the gold found in them. Many also bear a flame-like pattern of feathers around their glowing eyes. Their hands are like massive scoops and their fingers are tipped with heavy claws harder than steel. Their heads are topped with tough but luxurious straight hair. Many Grorn shave their heads as their hair can be made into valuable, hardy fabrics, which they wear and trade. Many Grorn are also blessed with horns, some even sprouting them from their arms, legs and torso. However, they most commonly appear on the head and are gently curved. Those Grorn who spend long years underground, excluding nobles, will tend to trim these down. The Grorn physique is connected to their surroundings and over time they can take on aspects of the terrain they inhabit. Those Grorn gifted with the ability of Landshaping can thus also alter their appearance slowly to match their needs.
Afflicted Grorn bare all manner of mutations due to their proximity to the deep earth and their embrace of Shadow Diamonds. Some sport open mouths on their stomachs and sealed lips, others a multitude of extra horns, their skin may be crystalline, translucent or heavily furred, they sport distended and swollen bellies due to their hunger for riches and lives. The aspects of all afflicted Grorn are warped and terrible. Many replace their eyes with large Shadow Diamonds or otherwise embed them in their skin.
A Grorn’s skin patterning denotes their lineage from ancient noble houses. You can combine the Name Elements to form the name of their ancient Grorn Lodge.
|d10||Skin Patterning||Name Element (1)||(2)||(3)|
|1||Mottled with lighter patches that glow at night or become darker in the day.||Jio||Lo||Chiu|
|2||Faintly striped, tiger/zebra patterned, straight thin lines widely spaced or densely packed.||Jerz||Shunaw||Dan|
|3||Monotone colour, vivid: yellow, crimson, sapphire.||Kyon||Ay||Eebin|
|4||Monotone colour, muted: soft orange, pale grey, eggshell, driftwood tones.||Ser||Wan||Zjin|
|5||Crescent patterns, some large, some small.||Ahshah||Zhan||Ashim|
|6||Clusters of three or four dots.||Lu||Un||Nabiao|
|7||Pale stripe running from lip to navel and nipple to inside fingertip.||Rah||Ai||Syun|
|8||Scale or feather-like patterning.||Yios||Kuo||Baho|
|9||Hands are a different colour ending in flame like patterning above the wrists.||Abhai||Ikhim||Shik|
|10||Concentric arcs or circles of different coloured skin.||Karshi||Ay||Refli|
Lifespan: Grorn may be functionally immortal. The passage of time does not wear easily upon them on the plane of dreams. Inspire of this elder Grorn, titans in the common tongue or Kyoshah in their own, of grow weary and bury themselves in the earth or in deep caves. The places where they slumber are sacred and sometimes prayed to for wisdom or visions of the past. A rare few are even rumoured to slumber in the clouds and bring the land changing winds that rack the plane. Whether these ancient slumbering Grorn eventually die in their slumber is not spoken of to outsiders.
Names: Grorn names are unisex and split into two broad categories, Traditional and Common. Common names vary wildly and often mimic local name conventions or simply reflect the Grorn’s reputation e.g. Rock Shaper, Village Back, The Watchtower, Grey Mountain, Deep Voice, Dark Heart, The Cruel. Some Grorn withhold their traditional names using them only with other Grorn. Traditional names: Akvasherantu, Ashraz, Baltejun, Droluhai, Ekinjer, Erheeka, Ilkayho, Karinderai, Petrakoto, Raloopkhi, Yamurser.
Alignment: Grorn have a variety of alignments but Afflicted tend towards evil and/or chaos.
Size: Generally 20-30 feet tall, although smaller Grorn are common. They continue to grow very slowly throughout their lives and some particularly ancient Grorn, such as Tukashalor, may reach 150 -200 feet tall. Thankfully such specimens are rare and most of these remain reclusive and slumbering.
Languages: Grorn speak an ancient version of Giant that is difficult to understand even by those familiar with that tongue. Some also speak common, sylvan or dwarvish.
Stat as a Fire Giant with the following changes:
- AC 16 (chain) or AC 15 (Grorn Hair Shirt)
- Speed 40 ft.
- Dark Vision 60 ft.
- Damage Immunities none
- Pickaxe, Piercing damage
- Resistance to Necrotic Damage [Afflicted only].
Weaponry: The Grorn are quite happy to use their massive size and claws as weapons but many wield huge mining related tools – pickaxes, hammers, chisels etc.
You can add the following special abilities to tweak Grorn:
- Landshaper (recharge 5-6) – As an action, the Grorn may cause any of the following effects to occur on a 15′ radius circle of ground:
- Create or destroy difficult terrain
- Lower or raise the ground by 10′
- Lower the ground 5′ and fill it with water
- Creatures in the affected area must make a DEX save or be knocked prone
- Mourn Singer – As an action, the Grorn sings the deep laments of their people. Non-Grorn creatures within 50ft. must make a DC 15 Char save or be knocked prone. Those creatures cannot use a bonus action or reaction until the end of their next turn.
- Acid Bomb – Ranged weapon attack: Range 240 ft., 15 ft. radius sphere. DC 15 DEX save. 4d10 Acid damage or half on save.
- Leap and Pin – If the giant jumps at least 10 ft. it can land on a creature/s of smaller size. Each creature it lands on must make a DC 15 Dex save. Fail: 8d6 Bludgeoning damage and grappled unless Giant moves. Fail: Half damage and moved adjacent to Giant.
- Shadow Cursed [Afflicted only] – As a bonus action, during the day and in the rays of the Bright Moon, the Afflicted Grorn can make an extra attack from their shadow. This attack is considered magical and does necrotic damage instead of the attack’s normal damage type. Creatures hit by this attack gain disadvantage on their next attack.
- Shadow Burn [Afflicted only] – The Giant’s shadow moves and twists around it. Creatures who end their turn within 10 feet take 1d10 Necrotic damage.
- Night Horror [Afflicted only] – At night and in the rays of the Black Sun, as an action the Afflicted Grorn absorbs their own shadow to grow in stature. They are considered lightly obscured at all times, gain night vision of 120′, their attacks do an additional d10 necrotic damage and they become resistant to non-magical weapon attacks.
Grorn are subject to strange quirks, whims and rules that they cannot resist. The table below provides indicative examples.
|d8||Grorn quirks||Afflicted Quirks|
|1||Requires absolute solitude and grows angry when disturbed by others.||Cannot enter a circle drawn in chalk and are compelled to wash it away with blood.|
|2||Seeks to rebuild/reclaim the lodge of their ancestors. Is bloodyminded about the task.||Obsessed with collecting coins, crystals, feathers, hair, miserable tales, finger bones, small creatures or vials of tears.|
|3||Is absolutely loyal to any who have served or helped their Lodge in the past.||They must sleep during the day under a mound of earth. At twilight and sunrise they pray for the rise and fall of the Black Sun.|
|4||Has a bitter hatred for all the Afflicted.||They insert small items under their skin. They constantly search for the ‘perfect’ items for this purpose.|
|5||The misfortunes that befall them are just recompense for the mistakes of their ancestors.||Susceptible to flattery and the offering of gifts and servitude. They demand the use of outrageous titles they have invented for themselves and expect creatures to know them. They demand to know the titles of those they meet and disrespect or kill those with insufficiently grand titles.|
|6||Incredibly proud of their crafts and those of their people.||Will do no harm to children and the old. Their sanity depends on this moral code. They will abide many other horrific crimes.|
|7||Obsessed with collecting trinkets from the material plane.||They whisper nightmares to those on the material plane to expunge them from themselves. Once the material dweller’s torment is strong they must retrieve them and bring them back to eat to re-ingest the nightmares and begin again.|
|8||Constantly shaping and reshaping the land, they seek perfection of form and content.||Can be hypnotised by remnants of the Grorn’s past. For example, hanging an ancient chisel around their neck made from strange metal.|
Treasure: Many Grorn bare ancestral bands around their arms, wrists or ankles forged from precious metals or unusual minerals. Fear of theft or murder to obtain them leads many grorn to cover, hide or bury them. Some are magically enchanted and upon the utterance of arcane words the band will increase or decrease the size. A Grorn’s pockets may be filled with precious stones or metals and all manner of items which have struck their fancy from doors to monstrous jerky.
Grorn enclaves are distrubuted throughout the Dreamscape:
- Pilgrim Paths especially in the Grorn Wound, their heartland, and the Black Sun Seams, where their strength and craft is in high demand.
- The Nightmare Nests – Many Afflicted are drawn here, find service under dangerous creatures or seek to carve out their own territories.
- Vastroykan – morally questionable service under the Textile Barons as well as trade caravan protection and transport.
- The Glooming – lost Grorn sometimes end up here aimlessly wandering and reminiscing about their people’s past.
- Fields of Memory – Ancient Grorn make pilgrimages here, attempting to revitalise fading memories of the great civilisation of their youth.
- Lone Grorn, particularly craftsmen, travel widely. Landshapers are in high demand in areas of the dreamscape which seek to expand their control such as the Court of Menlin. Those who can afford it hire Grorn as caravan guards.
- During the collapse of their civilisation, some Grorn swam out into the Sea of Emotion. Many found and settled islands whilst others swam on to the Fae Moon to found the Towering Court.
- Relatively rare these days, some make their way to the material plane, either for isolation from their brethren or to prey on the peoples there.
- Draconic Bleed – Many Grorn believe Dragons contributed to their downfall. Often reluctant to travel to this region, some come seeking revenge. Whether true or not, Grorn landshaping is less effective in this region.
- Huyesh the Waveterror, pirate captain of the Wound and lord of Qaddarai, hidden island in the Sea of Emotion. Seeks the void creature Myalotheth who destroyed several of his ships and is chief rival of Windspar, fae pirate captain. The rulers of Vanikarukam seek his head for his theft of the Shadow Sails. He has pretentions of being a greater sailor than Nestron, god of sailors. Many ‘normal’ sized folk form part of his crew but they use horses to cross the vast decks. His services are often employed to disrupt rivals in the Sea of Emotion.
- The Ivory Horror, greatest and most feared of the Afflicted Grorn. They who resides in the Last Mine deep in the Grorn Wound, slumbering but whispering into the sleep of their followers. Hard ivory coloured skin carved with disturbing runes and inset with thousands of shadow diamonds. Few have glimpsed the Horror’s enormous majesty, gaurded as they are by the ‘Three Who See with a Thousand Eyes’. When their plans reach fruition they will arise, shake the land and conquer.
- Mrotucate, Lodge Queen, the Uniter. She is described in a following section.
- Glassfingers, archivist and experimenter, who studies Teth technology and catalogues it. Wearing intricate, giant magnifying glasses and surrounded by small mechanical servitors. Occasionally, employs smaller folk to search for items and knowledge that their automatons would find difficult to retrieve.
- Tukashalor, a titan of the Grorn, ancient beyond measure and one of the few who has not yet taken to slumber. Tukashalor massive form strides the plane with a small humanoid community on their back and wandering caravans at their feet. An expert craftsman and landscaper but reluctant to engage in violence. Travellers can hitch rides in exchange for services rendered to the Tukashalor’s accompanying settlement.
Adventure Seeds involving the Grorn
- An ancient Grorn Titan, long slumbering under the material plane has been slain by a foul sorcerer seeking magical components. The Lodge brothers of this ancient Grorn have felt their death and have come seeking vengeance.
- Hashyun Bloodeye, an Afflicted Grorn, rises in power. He has opened pathways to the material through which his followers travel. They strike out, raiding the material for sport, captives and loot. His eventual goal is to set up a material enclave that will allow for a power grab on the Dreamscape. He employs agents from the Material whom he has whispered to in dreams and tempted with great wealth. He seeks to consume the lost Staff of Afyn, once owned by a powerful mortal dreamer. Consuming the staff will allow him to make larger and more permanent paths to the material but it could also be used to seal shut the paths he is currently using.
- A settlement in the Dreamscape is in danger of being swallowed by instabilities of the Lands Between. They must seek out a Grorn Landshaper to shore up the permanence of their home. Unfortunately, the Grorn they seek is currently being held captive by Afflicted Grorn in a deep cave system.
- The only thing that can cure the broken mind of the Onieromancer Gwathuka is the Grorn panacea, Hulmash. The parties must negotiate with the nobility of Flanriene who have monopolised key ingredients, seek the help of an Afflicted Grorn apothecary and perform a service for Glassfingers in the Ruins of Teth. Only then can they make the cure.
That’s it for now, I hope you enjoyed this description of the native giants of the Dreamscape. Next up will be the Bandren, the nomadic peoples of the Bandren Range. I’ll be sticking with the Dreamscape stuff to finish it off. I might plug away in random order at various remaining parts of the series which take my fancy. If you are enjoying these articles please let me know and please feel free to share they around. If you have any questions about Dreamscape stuff ask away. As always, thanks for reading and sticking with this long drawn out series. I’m having fun with it anyway!