Troglodyte Mystic

n.b. Welcome to Troglodyte Tuesday! A feature in which I present (or re-present) monsters I have created or adapted for use in my own 5E D&D campaigns, including lore, tips for running them and a stat block. Today we have the last of the troglodyte variations created for my remix of N1 – Against the Cult of the Reptile God.

The working name for this guy was “Troglodyte Cult Leader.” Originally, I was looking for a replacement for “shaman” and “witch-doctor,” since both words are loaded in their generic use. “Shaman” is connected to various real-world practices among different peoples in Northern Asia and North America. “Witch-Doctor” on the other hand took a weird route towards its connotations, starting as healers one saw for treatment for or protection from witches (a tradition that existed in Europe) and eventually becoming a caricature of shamans as primitive practitioners of various sorcerous powers. The term “witch-doctor” conjures racist images of the “ooga-booga” native with a bone in his nose, like those you see in some old Bugs Bunny cartoons. I can do without adding to or perpetuating that idea or disrespecting a belief system by attributing it to monstrous humanoids as D&D did unthinkingly for a couple of decades.

Koshark the Troglodyte Mystic as represented by a Green Slaad miniature.

I didn’t want to use “priest” because despite being fine with that title as a generic, it implies a certain amount of organized religious practice that did not seem right for trogs. Maybe I should have stuck with “cult leader” as the name. Instead, I went with “mystic,” seeing these examples of troglodytedom  as a kind of evil ascetic who has achieved a form of enlightenment through self-depravation and the exploitation of others. I think of them as a monstrous Keith Raniere type (well, fantastically monstrous, instead of actually monstrous). Living the life of a know-it-all guru and vanguard of a group of people is possible when you live on the backs of those people and gain power over and through them.

I see Koshark the Mystic as someone who has come back to his people with the revelation that the best way to emulate their deity is to look out for himself and sacrificing others. I imagine him allying himself with the naga Perspicua Besmirch for the power that brings him, but seeking to eventually betray her when it is most beneficial for him, but learning from her ruthless tactics and demands for total obedience in the meantime.

Furthermore, I like the idea that every mystic might have his own take on the weird powers I developed for them based on their own experiences. Who knows? I may come back to this idea and try my hand at a few variations.

The Troglodyte Mystic does not have a lot of hit points, but it is important to remember when running him that it is his command of other troglodytes and hit and run tactics that makes him a threat. Isolated from his minions, he is probably a pushover, as is usually the case with the creeps he’s based on. Remember! Just because the Mystic has a power that let’s him command other trogs to take actions when it is not their turn, does not mean that is the only time they will obey him and act on his tactical commands.

​Below you will find descriptions of the creature, a full stat block, and a link to PDF version of the full description and 5E stat block.

Click here for a PDF version of full description and stat block.

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