Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Vriyagga

Yesterday when I posted the article Dragon Magazine #4 Special Empire of the Petal Throne Issue I mentioned that I was absolutely taken with the Vriyagga and I meant it. I've had nightmarish images of that beast roaming about in my mind's eye for nearly a week now and I can't hardly wait to push that bad mother out of my mind's eye and into my games.

The description of the beast from the article in Dragon Magazine #4 is spectacular. It reads:
". . . In the oldest extant book, the Chronicles of Llyan of Tsamra, there is mention of a semi-legendary race which dwells in a city on an island in the “farthest reaches of the sea”; this race is described as being giant Ghar who ride upon vehicles, and it is called the Vriyagga. Probably the author was referring to the terrible inhabitants of the City of the Red-Tiled Roofs, the original name of which is lost in the mists of history.

The City of the Red-Tiled Roofs can only be reached through the subterranean transport system which still exists under many parts of Tekumel. It is a city of great, empty buildings, vasty halls, and intricate architecture, all empty of any life and also lacking in any signs of the reasons for its desertion long ago. Ewers and utensils still sit on the crumbled tables, furniture long rotted away to fragile dust still lines the hallways, chests of incomprehensible objects are still stored in its wealthy storerooms — and there are no signs of any inhabitants. Only the Vriyagga now patrol its marble streets.

The Vriyagga is a creature to strike terror into the most heroic breast: a huge pair of wheel-like appendages revolve around central axes like the treads of a tank, powered by gnarled and knotted cores of muscle-fiber. A great central braincase hangs between these, and from the lower part of the parody of a face there depend four (or more in larger specimens) great tentacles covered with powerful suckers. The mouth is lined with poison-dripping purple feelers, which can also serve to kill and ingest its victims. The ebon eyes are like great black opals, drinking in all available light and allowing the Vriyagga to see in the dark. This terrible creature has considerable intelligence and can think, organize, call up its fellows, and lay ambushes, although it cannot speak. It is limited, of course, in that it can only reach into areas where its great treaded wheels will carry it. Thus, it cannot climb stairs or do more than reach into smaller rooms (even this is dangerous, since it senses heat and can thus grope about until it catches someone. Its tentacles are very tough (armor class 2 to sever), and they do 2/4/6 dice of damage per turn to a victim caught in their toils, depending upon the size of the Vriyagga. The larger specimens move slower than the younger and smaller ones, of course, but the former are more intelligent and have tentacles sometimes capable of snaking their way up into a second storey room!

The origins of the Vriyagga are uncertain. There are no records, and thus it can only be theorized that these creatures were brought as zoological specimens from some distant world during the early period of humanity’s technological greatness. They appear to live on the Qu’uni — another species found on the shores of the island upon which this ancient and mysterious city is located. These are pallid, semi-transparent shrimp-like creatures who automatically attack human parties trying to obtain water (the water supply system of the old city has become useless, and there are no visible wells). The Vriyagga prefer juicier humans to the rather tasteless blandness of a Zu’uni, however, and once discovered, a human party had best plan to remain high up in the crumbling, ruined buildings, out of the long tentacles’ reach . . ." (Dragon Magazine #4 pgs 19 and 21)
Like the works of H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu mythos, the Vriyagga isn't just some fantastical beast that should only haunt those esoteric novels and dusty tombs that crowd our book shelves. It deserves to have a place in our games and in our active imaginations. It should be a danger that hunts the forgotten temples and cities of our fictional worlds.

All of that said I hated the illustration from the magazine so I made my own.

Vriyagga by Chalres Akins

I hope he inspires your games and creeps about your mind's eye as he has mine for the last week.

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