Gibbering Mouther: the flesh that slides, the teeth that gnash, the horror behind the jabber... the horror
Been a looooong time since i posted last. i was requested to write a gnoll entry, but unfortunately couldn't come up with enough inspiration for it. the Gibbering mouther have been touched upon in various D&D editions, and even in one of my most favorite books- lords of madness. but though they made magnificent work with the major aberrations in the book, the GM was left unelaborated.
i hope to rectify this here.
Gibbering mouhter, MMI, Lords of Madness
- Bad street rep: while obviously meant for horror, the Gibbering Mouther have been left a bit hanging. there are two horrific parts about it in the description- sprouting a new mouth and eyes while consuming a victim (which i'll grant, is creepy) and that their gibbering can drive a person insane. that said how do they connect? what is the creature's purpose? how does it interact with it's surroundings and such? does it just eat things?
i think it was mostly supposed to be a tricky combat encounter for low level parties- it has a bunch of none standard abilities. but i think most DMs don't know quite how to fit it except for "yay, another strange encounter" to make it worthwhile. most of all, it fails in the main role of an aberration- inspiring horror.
- i like it because: C'mon! an ooze of flesh and teeth, gibbering in many voices, speaking many tongues, driving you insane? this oozes (pardon the pun) of potential roleplay goodness. the Gibbering mouther seems like an iconic creature of raw horror. we must make it so!
And now, presenting to you the new and improved Gibbering Mouther:
Perception and concept
- Perception:the main use for such a creature is in horror. and as such it's horrific aspects should be amplified. the main change is by integrating the Gibbering Mouther into the very framework of horror itself, and by expanding on the concept of "eaten joining the whole", the creature as a multitude in fact.
more than that, i aim to make the creature an interesting roleplay experience, and a mystery experience, not just a combat encounter. a conversation with horror.
Concept: Gibbering Mouthers FEED of horror, they are attracted to it, it's echos and sometime create it. they are it's hounds, it's lap dogs. but not just incomprehensible "Far Realm" Horror, but more "common" horror, one that all can (and if the Gibbering Mouthers have anything to gibber about all WILL) relate to.
The Gibbering mouthers are Aberrations, but they also have qualities resembling an ooze (they can split, slide and reform), and that of a multitude (acting as many creatures). they are a... complex creature.
lastly, the Gibbering Mouthers, due to their special connection to horror, have quite a place in mysticism and some strange religions and superstitions.
Place in the world and interactions
- Place in the world: No one exactly knows where these creatures came from. some scholars theorize they came from the Far Realm, some say they were created by some mad wizards, some say they were punishment for the Hubris of a long dead race or culture. it's difficult to know, since it's nearly impossible to make an informative conversation with a Mouther, and they leave little to explore behind.
Did they originate from the other Aberrations such as the Mind Flayers or the Aboleths? both races have the power to create such beings. but though the gibbering mouthers sometime frequent their settlements, there seems to be no special attachments. the higher aberration seem to treat the mouthers more like stray dogs or packs of rats. most times, mouthers are found far from their places.
for mouthers feed and need fear. not the simple fear, but the horrendous fear of true horror. no one knows how- but mouthers can sense occurrences of horrors from afar, and... "get" there. (will be explained). they dwell in such places, living up of echoes of atrocities that have happened, abnormalities and transgressions that occur now, and some even say they can sense the horrors to come, in the future, and that the arrival of a Mouther is an omen of a great wrong to be done soon.
Mouthers are capable voyagers, if a bit slow- few places are secure of a gibbering mouther's "visit". they are capable swimmers, the can climb walls and adhere to ceilings with their secreted adhesions, they can split to small parts and alter their forms, gaining entrance through small passages, but perhaps most disturbing at all is their ability to... "slide" or "slip" between dimensions and somehow arrive at the source of the terror they seek to feed upon.
this ability is not well understood. but a few gibbering mouthers have been witnessed to do this when an urgent "fear source" arises, and seek it out, or leave a place once it's "potential" has been exhausted. this is how you can find a gibbering mouther in the middle of a city, on a ship, or in the vaults of the dwarves. they don't seem to use it at will (quite a few mouthers have perished without sliding anywhere) and it seems to take some effort from them. where do they slide to? no one exactly knows. (or no one is telling). are you sure you want to go where mouthers slide?
the mouthers themselves are partly one creature, partly a multitude. they can converse or act as a singular creature, possibly it's one part of the many that takes charge, but at most times they act as many creatures- some grabbing the walls, some secreting acid, some trying to eat or bite, and most of them... gibbering.
for when a mouther eats a sentient enough creature, it's not just the body that gets eaten, but also part of the soul- the creature's fear, terrors, secrets, regret. and that little part keeps living them, over and over and over again, blabbering about them, sharing them with the world, seeking some sort of release.
but a mouther senses the secrets and fears of all it is near to, to the limited degree of it's strange alien mind. it picks pieces up, and yell them/ whisper them/ ask questions and more. many who have faced a gibbering mouther are faced with their own well kept secrets/ horrible misdeeds/ horrendous crimes. together with the ingrained horror of past victims, this can drive a person insane.
Gibbering Mouthers often haunt one place or another, feeding slowly on the echoes of horrors, old and new (and future?). they do not occupy themselves solely by feeding though. though of limited intelligence, that of a child without any scruples in a way, a mouther have often found a place to live amongst others, in some sort of a relationship. the creatures take up all kind of personality traits of those consumed, changing it's own personality a bit after each "meal". but also quite often ready to converse, possibly barter and more, though for it's own strange and unsettling needs. containing parts of people consumed, the mouther might have flashes of memories, secrets and other information, though often in some way connected to horrifying experiences.
One reason mouthers attack creatures is to generate enough horror in them (often triggered most powerfully by the gibbering and being swallowed and devoured), but also to regenerate their bodies and grow larger. fleah of others is usually used to repair themselves, and grow ever larger to monstrous proportions of heaving gnashing gibbering masses of flesh.
but the flesh need not stay put together. being somewhat of an ooze the gibbering mouthers can split (either voluntarily or upon being dealt enough damage) to pieces as small as strands of flesh supporting a single eye ball and mouth. (though usually the mouther uses larger forms). this... swarm of flesh all acts in unison, and they can spread, climb, crawl, swim or tunnel their way to hidden locations to rest, if too big a threat is apparent.
in locations where a gibbering mouther has been for long, it has created a multitude of tunnels using it's acid to enable it to slide through floors, walls and ceilings, appearing as coalescing flesh from a honey combed wall.
some say gibbering mouthers are created by a bigger one splitting up. some say they leave sort of "flesh eggs" made of but a few devoured victims. some say they have some mating ritual in the space they slide too. some say they are created by Illithids as amusement. who knows?
- Interactions: some people hunt them down. some people revere them as omens from the gods, and try to appease them. for some they are trash disposals, for some they are guardians. Gibbering mouthers tend to create their own unique relationships with their neighbors. some deserve a special mentions:
- Other Mouthers:a strange little fact- no where were two "independent" mouthers found. sometime you find a few, but they act in unison- part of a bigger mouther. why is that no one knows.
- Mind Flayers: as little as anyone can tell, mind flayers seem amused by the mouthers, keeping them almost as pets. perhaps it's someone you can't exactly mind read (or maybe you read of something similar?), or perhaps the lack of brains, or perhaps the delicious sensing of horror. who knows?
- Undead: gibbering mouthers often pray in undead heavy areas, as these are often good grounds for horror. the undead itself can be a tale of tragedy and woe. many intelligent undead find the gibbering mouther a handy unexpected guardian, especially against those pesky clerics.
- Constructs: since most of these are unintelligent, and made of non living material, gibbering mouthers usually have no interest in them, and would leave them alone. sometime a gibbering mouther will linger in the ruins of a devastated civilization, feeding on it's pat, while proving to be an opportunistic predator, joining fights with constructs against ungainly adventurers.
- Far Realm cults: often revere gibbering mouthers as "true off springs of the realm". some cults have gained a way yo predict where a gibbering motuehr will appear, and thus where some horror is likely. the gibbering mouthers enjoy the worship and free food.
- primitive humanoids: (according to your campaign) also revere these as omens of portents. quite a few tribes have created their "gibbering hole" (similar to an otyugh hole) a place to test their new warriors, and throw in captives.
i intend to list here both ideas that support the gibbering mouther's role as a horror, and also make him a more interesting and varied combat encounter. i do not know what the new CR will be
size and splitting
- A gibbering mouhter has some semblence of an ooze and a swarm. a gibbering mouther can "split off" portions of itself (each with an appropriate chunk of hp). 2 small mouthers equal 1 medium. 4 medium are equal 1 large. 4 large are one huge, and so on...
- however, a gibbering mouther can split itself to as many small part he wants, till each one has 1 hp. (he can even create such a one and send it to spy on the party from a hole). they all act on the same initiative, and they must remain 120 feet from all other segments or die within 10 minutes. they each move individually, but all act on the same initiative order.
- the gibbering mouther has 20ft climb, 20 ft swim, and is considered to be under "spider climb the whole time.
- the mouther can burrow at 5ft, due to an acid it produces. the size of the tunnels depends on the segment creating the tunnel, and is often shifting, twisting, and impossible to follow by anyone not having an amorphous form.
- "Sliding"/ "slip": a mouther can use this power in two ways. first as a full round action the mouther can transport itself up to 60 feet, but must end it's movement 30 ft or less from a creature of at least 3 intelligence.
secondly it can be used as a plot device- the mouther can travel a great distance through some means to a site of existing or potential horror.the effect is equal to telport wihtout error, but the mouther loses half it's hit points, and then is usually hungry.
- from every 1 point of con damage drained the mouther regenerates 5 hp. these hp CAN go over the hp limit, when they become temp hp. half of these will become permanent hp. upon reaching enough hp (i'll leave that to you) the mouther increases in size. this is how they grow.
- every creature killed by the mouther is devoured, and part of it's soul/ essence is trapped within the mouther. raising/ reincarnating such creatures forces an insanity check (as the spell) upon the raised creature (or you can go with wisdom drain? cannot be restored by restoration?). only full restoration avoids this. if the mouther is killed a special ceremony can be done to release the spirit, and prevent the needed insanity check.
- the first round failing the gibbering does bring madness, but further failures bring wis damage. (i suggest playing this by either maddening music, or telling the PCs horrific secrets/ transgressions and the like)
- your own secrets: the mouther can sense secrets, fear and such horrors that afflict you, and will shout/ speak/ whisper them to you... and perhaps others. this can be prevented by a fairly high Will save. (good for character growth?)