Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Winter Wolf & Worg

Note: The Water Orm entry has surfaced.  Go check it out!  Especially since (though I didn't realize it at the time) that would have been the second anniversary of our move to Tumblr.

Worgs and winter wolves upend traditional notions of domestication.  Taking inspiration from Tolkien’s wargs, worgs bear goblin riders but are often the ones in charge.  (Worgs in the service of hobgoblins or orcs get less leeway, but even then it’s likely a constant push/pull battle for pack dominance.) 

And winter wolves don’t even pretend to think of themselves as anything but superior to humanoids…until they run into one powerful enough to bring them to heel.  Frost giants are an exception—winter wolves willingly heed them, in some cases because the frost giant is so powerful, in others simply because aiding a frost giant is a far more comfortable, fattening life than hunting in the wild (not that any winter wolf would ever admit that to himself).

Both worg species speak as well.  It’s bad enough to be hunted by predators, but to hear the pack coordinating, closing in, and making ready for the kill in a language you understand must be a truly hope-extinguishing experience.

Chief Pustongue is terrified of his worg steed.  In fact, the worgs have been ruling the goblin clan in all but name for months.  During raids, he has begun discreetly dropping fake ransom notes and terribly spelled letters from a “damsel in dis dress,” all in the hope of attracting adventurers who will deal with the worgs.

Winter wolves hunt and harry an adventuring party through the snow, turning them this way and that.  The chase appears random, but the wolves are actually steering the adventurers toward a specific mountain pool that remains mysteriously ice-free.  There the winter wolves’ ally, a rusalka, waits to claim her prizes. Her lair may contain fey tokens or other bits of faerie magic beneficial to the wolves.

The party druid adopts a wolf pup as a companion…but several growth spurts later, it is clear he has a worg on his hands.  Will the canine remain loyal, or is the breed simply too bloodthirsty to be redeemed?  Meanwhile, the other members of the party find that having a talking worg in their midst makes civil conversation and negotiation almost impossible—comments like “He smells of weakness and pigeon-fear” come off as demeaning somehow.

Pathfinder Bestiary 280

If you’re into winter wolves, Cities of Golarion and Pathfinder Adventure Path #68: The Shackled Hut introduced the Howlings, a district of Whitethrone where winter wolves can take human shape.  The Shackled Hut also has Russ Taylor’s “Ecology of the Winter Wolf” to boot, making it must-read if you’re a fan of these wicked creatures.

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