Reading Mr. Easterly's post on bland Fiend Folio humanoids reminded me of some work I did "repurposing" uninspiring monsters to give them new potential.
Pity the poor norker, a monster which has a description which differs in many particulars from that of a hobgoblin, followed by the sentence:
In all other respects they are similar to hobgoblins.
It would seem that the norker is a spoof monster, a riff on a Douglas Adams' joke:
He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.
Yeah, the norker is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a hobgoblin. What can be done to rehabilitate this uninspiring beastie? We have a squat, goblinish goon wielding a blunt weapon, and possessing three-inch canine teeth... wielding a blunt weapon, and possessing three-inch canine teeth... I think we can work with this, and transform the silly norker into the dreaded haemogoblin!!! No need to change the basic characteristics- keep the hit dice, armor class, and attacks, but add a stirge-like blood drain (maybe 1-4 h.p. per round) to a successful bite attack. The fondness for blunt weapons can be explained by a sanguivore's need to conserve the delicious blood in a victim for alimentary purposes. The high armor class is due to a combination of a thick hide (uh, if it doesn't have muscle attachments, it's not an "exoskeleton", just a very thick integument) and the use of armor (typically thick hide... "epidermis all the way down, baby") due to the hazards of a harsh environment which they share with other sanguivorous horrors.
Perhaps the haemogoblins are the victims of a curse, or the recipients of divine favor from a bloodthirsty demon or god. Their leadership structure is similar to that of their hobgoblin relatives, their leaders typically wield more puissant blunt weapons such as maces and flails.
A little flavor text, a simple tweak, and a jokey monster gains some potential as a decent baddie.
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