Of all the influences on my own campaign perhaps no other author has held such a powerful place in my imagination than Jack Vance. Whether it's the fairy-tale medieval picaresque of Lyonesse, the somewhat melancholy pulp fantasy of the Dying Earth, or the vast array of lesser known but equally evocative space opera worlds, I can't read more than a few pages without reaching for my brainstorm notebook to jot down a new idea for an NPC, locale, absurd encounter, or just an elusive weird fantasy tone/theme to weave into a session.
Invariably some of my favorite scenes revolve around witty, deadly exchanges between the protagonist and a harm-intending creature. The crafty deodand is a particular favorite, so I present him as a monster to spring on your unwitting players.
No. Enc.: 1 (1-3)
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
Movement: 90 (30)
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 3 (2 claws, 1 bite)
Damage: 1d4, 1d4, 1d8
Deodands are intelligent, man-eating humanoids rumored to be borne of a sorcerous experiment that combined a human with a wolverine and basilisk. Deodands appear as handsome, muscular men with dull charcoal-black skin, long sharp fangs, and slitted golden or white eyes. The typical deodand prefers to wear a leather harness with bits of velvet or other rich clothes attached. There is a 30% chance that the harness is adorned with ornamental gems worth 100-400 gp.
The solitary deodand prefers to ambush his prey by stealth and will hide in shadows and move silently at a 60% chance. If caught unobserved he will surprise an unwitting party on a 1-4 roll on a d6.
Though vicious and unremitting in his desire to eat other humanoids, the deodand is also particularly interested in maintaining his own skin. If obviously overpowered or reduced to less than 1/3 hit points he will beg and plead for his life, often offering to guide a party. Adventurers should remain vigilant however if they take the creature up on any offer, as the deodand may attempt to subtly lead them into danger.