N is for Nyx the Night Hag

nyx

Once again, I was uninspired by the entries under “N” within the Monster Manual. However, “Night Hag” is listed under “Hag” so I went with that because scary old ladies are awesome.

Nyx is a figure from myth made real by some dark force. At night she enters the rooms of misbehaving children, sits on their bed and drinks their souls through their breath. Then she departs as silently as a shadow, leaving the child’s still-living shell behind for their parents to discover the next morning.

The child’s soul is brought to a frightening cottage deep in the woods where it wanders an endless maze of rooms filled with their worst fears.

Background

Nyx was once a fairy tale used by parents to frighten misbehaving children. “Be good or else Nyx the bog-witch will catch you while you sleep” was a popular warning.

However, due to some unknown force full of dark magic, the nightmare of Nyx has become real. When a parent uses the once benign warning, Nyx is really summoned that same night. The next morning, parents desperately search for their missing children, but to no avail.

Using this NPC in your campaign

Nyx the Night Hag could in actuality be many different things and her reasons for taking away the children might not always be malevolent. This could be played up at face value: the party might be hired to find the missing children and defeat an evil creature OR as they investigate they discover an ugly truth; that the true evil was not where they expected it to be:

  1. An actual Night Hag taking advantage of local superstitions to feed her evil appetite for souls.
  2. A demon summoned into the world by an insanely grieving parent intent on stealing other people’s children.
  3. A ghost trying to save children from an approaching plague.
  4. A Druid seeking vengeance against the village; she does not in fact harm the kidnapped children, but teaches them the Old Ways to spite the new faith.
  5. A Fey coming to take back her people’s children; the village had been once cursed with barrenness and the mayor made an unwise pact with the Unseelie Court.
  6. A kindly witch trying to save the children from villagers planning on conducting a mass sacrificial ritual to appease an evil god.

M is for Merkourios the Medusa

Merkourios

Merkourios is a Gorgon (Medusa, according to D&D), a rare male of the kind. From his desert palace he sends out to the world beautiful poetry and extremely life-like statues of famous warriors and heroes. The latter are, in fact, challengers from far and wide who sought fame in defeating the Somber King (but failed, obviously).

His works are famous; the poems are cherished by the common people because they lift up the spirits of the downtrodden and unfortunate. His statues sell for great prices for some are of legendary demi-gods and fantastic creatures, such as Minotaurs, Centaurs, Demons and even Giants. He has so far been undefeated because of the continuous stream of these exported treasures.

Background

Merkourios was once the king of a great empire. He constantly fought over ownership of the throne with his twin sibling Ammonios. While they both had equal birthright to rulership, Merkourios was far more popular with the people on account of his brother’s sorcerous ways. Ammonios seemed all too eager to resurrect the ancient rituals of human sacrifice, while Merkourios was a charismatic warrior and poet.

Through some nefarious plot, Ammonios managed to trick his brother into going on a quest to slay a threatening “cult” hiding in the desert. It turned out to be a lie; the people that Merkourios’ war party slew were, in fact, holy pilgrims of a benevolent Oasis Goddess. Angered by this barbarous act, the Goddess cursed Merkourious so that he could never be around other people without harming them and turned his greatest warriors into serpents forever melded to his skull.

Ashamed and devastated, Merkourios hid himself in the forgotten palace of his ancestors, hiring only blind servants and aides. He fell into a dark despair as his brother ruined their kingdom and turned it into a dreaded and feared canker in the land.

Using this NPC in your campaign

Merkourios has all of the powers of a typical Gorgon (Medusa), but he is a good-hearted and charitable soul burdened with countless years of pain and sadness. The heroes could encounter him in one of a few ways:

  1. They recognize a lifelike statue in a town square as one of their allies who had vanished recently; the investigation as to how this came to be could lead them into the desert.
  2. The heroes, if more combat oriented or if they’re a band of monster slayers, may hear rumors of a Medusa living in the desert. Once they get there, things become complicated when his true nature becomes revealed.
  3. The heroes are on a quest to slay the evil sorcerer in some desert kingdom. They may find an unexpected ally in Merkourios.
  4. The party Bard comes across one of Merkourios’ poems: not only is it heartbreakingly haunting, it contains a secret message: a call for help by a man wishing to end the tyranny of his evil brother.