Monstrous Monday: The Nightkin

I did a little searching last week, and discovered that Monster Monday has been used a thousand times by a thousand different people. In order to keep myself semi-original, I’ve decided to change the name from Monster Monday to Monstrous Monday! That’s right, it’s the second edition of Loot the Body, so why not the second edition Monstrous Manual?

The nightkin are an idea I’ve had for a while. I’ve even used them in one of my less-successful campaigns. They make great early (level 1-2) enemies (or non-enemies, as you’ll learn). At a glance, nightkin are territorial, mostly non-hostile, goblin-sized, black-skinned humanoids with glowing blue eyes and teeth, and long claws on their hands. Similarly, their blood glows this same color. They’re entirely nocturnal, and work well as a substitute for wolves as a low-level stalking threat in the night.

Description. As noted above, nightkin are completely black-skinned, from head-to-toe. They stand about three-and-one-half feet tall, all lean, lanky muscle with knobby joints. Mature males sport thick, shaggy manes of similarly-black hair that encircle their heads, while females are notable for having a long, slender tail with a single barb on the end. A nightkin’s eyes and teeth glow a fluorescent blue, as do its long-razorlike retractable claws. At night, and at a distance, this often gives a group of nightkin the appearance of fireflies swarming in the trees.

shadow_goblin__by_mooneyez-d65emur
“Shadow Goblin” by MoonEyez

Ecology. Nightkin are, in fact, herbivorous in nature, only eating vegetation and fruits from their surroundings. They usually set up communities in naturally-occurring fruit tree groves, and their long claws are perfect for retrieving and slicing high-hanging fruit. Not many know this about them, however, as their frightening appearance and vicious combat tactics leave even the most progressive communities fearful for their lives.

From birth, nightkin are raised to understand that community is the highest pillar of their civilization. Friendships and relationships are paramount in nightkin society, and such bonds are eternal. From there, nightkin are taught that protecting the grove (their source of food and shelter) should be held in near-as-high regard as protecting each other, and that it should only be abandoned if all appears hopeless. Territory is marked with symbols scratched into the bark of trees, in the hopes that those who approach will know to avoid it.

Nightkin communities are formed in the branches of trees, and most nightkin rarely even touch the ground, though children can be found playing games where they retrieve items from the forest floor. They are intelligent, and capable of tool use, and therefore will build tree-forts and homes, usually circular in shape, like a long birds-nest on its side. Coming upon such a community during the day can be a singlular experience, as one discovers dozens of cylindrical nests all bordering a grove of fruit trees.

The nightkin’s attraction to the treetops gives them very few natural enemies. Panthers and other predators that can climb among the branches can prove to be a problem, but the nightkin’s greatest foes are creatures like goblins and kobolds that will hunt them down and use arrows and fire to slay entire communities. Goblins, in particular, can be quite cruel.9621c7798bcac8132ac66117e7edecd1

Tactics. Nightkin tend to avoid combat. When they detect intruders in their territory, their standard tactic is to seek their camp and break all of the low-hanging branches from the trees surrounding the camp, and drop them to the forest floor, signifying that they cannot reach the nightkin. They will also carve symbols into the trees, warning off the intruders. Should they remain in nightkin territory, or if they get too close to the grove, then nightkin will resort to attack. Nightkin do not use weapons, and choose instead to slash at enemies with their long claws. They leap at their foes, swarming them in an attempt to overwhelm them with their numbers. Females will use their tail-barbs in dire situations, as it can only be used once per day, though it does carry a potentially-deadly poison. If more than half their number is slain, then nightkin will flee and regroup. They will not chase fleeing enemies unless they have paid them a grievous insult, such as assaulting the grove or the heart of the community itself.

Stat Blocks. Below are the statistics for the nightkin, presented in longform, as well as abbreviated formats:

Nightkin

Nightkin S

And, of course, the PDF with both blocks: Nightkin Stat blocks

I hope you enjoyed October’s first Monstrous Monday! Keep an eye out this Friday for the next part of my series on deconstructing the ranger, and come back next Monday for another monster! What will it be? Even I don’t know!

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