Deep in the Beneath, duergar clans of Ulthe-Ganya toil endlessly. Greed never satisfied, hatred never abated and resolve as strong and tempered as the metal of the forge, the grim folk work relentlessly. These dark mirrors of dwarves assert their superiority over all other races through the sheer volume of anything they set their strong minds to. In their endless search for wealth and material, one noble duergar house discovered a nest of bizarre creatures.
Abizder inspiration for fantastical mounts
Equal parts lizard, bat and spider, the creatures scuttled across the cavern ceiling, swooped through the air and charged straightforward on the rocky terrain in defense of their home and unhatched young, but to no avail. The duergar were merciless, save for a single member of the brutal exploration squad. Seeing potential in a valuable new resource, several of the creatures’ eggs were left intact and brought back to their city in the Beneath. The remainder of the nest of monstrosities was slaughtered.
The creatures were integrated into the steeder pens of the duerger noble’s stronghold. Through psionic prodding and cruel treatment over several generations, the new creatures became faster, stronger and more easily controlled by their new duergar masters. Within just a couple of generations the strange hybrid creatures had killed off and consumed the house’s steeder population. Dubbed abizder, these versatile creatures proved much more efficient than steeders for travel throughout the Beneath.
The duergar discovered use for the abizder as mounts for war, raiding and skirmishes against their enemies in the Beneath. As their warriors grew more accustomed to riding abizder, deadly new tactics and methods emerged. The elite and most highly-trained abizder riders are groomed as either shock troopers or ambush strike forces.
Emboldened, the duergar began to expand their empire through a brutal campaign against their enemies both in the Beneath and the beyond. The flight capabilities provided by the abizder allow for surgical strikes and quick retreats. The balance of power begins to shift, and those unfortunate to have been targeted by the duergar expansion start to consider unheard of alliances to quell this growing threat.
As dwarves, humans and even drow of Glimmermere become increasingly concerned, rumors emerge of a powerful cleric of the duerger god of conquest and knowledge leading a fanatical sect of abizder marauders. Spies have heard these marauders are planning an assault upon the dwarven city OutKast itself.
Adventurers in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons spend a significant portion of their career traveling, exploring and moving about in the world. You could even make an argument that an entire third of the adventurer life is exploration, and a pretty fantastical variety at that. Flying carpets, winged boots, teleport spells and airships aside, an adventurer deserves a fantastical mount to carry them through an equally fantastic setting.
Walking from one frontier village to the next holds the same potential for trouble as in the real world, with added dangers of terrible monsters, evil wizards and savage hordes lurking on the fringes of civilization.
By the same token, the foes adventurers face become greater threats when paired with creatures to give them more options and tactics to exploit.
In Nerdarchy’s home campaign set in the world of Ulthe-Ganya, fantastical mounts like the abizder give us an outlet for creativity and a way to customize the cultures and societies of our world in fun, interesting ways. And in our experience, players love discovering amazing new creatures that can become unique fantastical mounts to carry their characters forward into adventures.
In Chimes of Discordia: Fantastical Mounts you’ll find five new creatures for your Fifth Edition game. Each entry includes an original stat block, creature ecology and background information, trade goods, steps to training each creature and options for special maneuvers and tactics. Several entries contain more than one version of the creature too, representing different breeds or specially trained varieties.
The example is one possible way to introduce the abizder to your own campaign. These flying, wall-crawling hybrids of lizard, bat and spider make fantastical mounts because of the variety of movement types, web abilities and poisonous bites. Below, you’ll find an article with more information about the abizder, from when Nerdarchist Ted first began working on these strange creatures.
There’s also additional detail about the duergar marauders described in the beginning of this post.
You can find Chimes of Discordia: Fantastical Mounts in the Nerdarchy store for digital download, and keep an eye out for other articles about the new creatures in the book. Let us know in the comments below, or leave a review on the store page if you’ve used any of these creatures in your game.
Duergar Abizder Marauders
- Ghorek Ashfist (duergar warlord – Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes)
- Zerex Shattermind (duergar mind master – Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes)
- Duergar squad (6) (duergar xarrorn – Out of the Abyss)
- Abizder (8) (abizder – Chimes of Discordia: Fantastical Mounts)
- Mounts for Ghorek, Mind Master and squad
Ghorek Ashmind is a veteran skirmisher in the Beneath, skilled in guerilla warfare and hit-and-run tactics with experience raiding dwarven caravans closer to the surface. Ghorek immediately saw the value in the abizder and helped breed the beasts. Zerex, an infiltration specialist who has campaigned with Ghorek for decades, eagerly volunteered for this new squad, anxious for a chance at slaughter on the surface world.
With the abizders’ versatile movement, Ghorek and this marauders conduct raids on the surface, targeting isolated settlements along known trade routes. Crawling to the surface through ancient tunnels drilled up to the surface from below, Zerex first sneaks into the settlement using her psionic ability to reduce her size and causing distractions with her mind mastery ability while the squad uses abizder webbing to cut off escape routes.
Once this is done, the marauders attack without mercy from the sky wielding fire lances. Once they’ve taken whatever they are after — trade goods, coin or hostages — the marauders quickly scuttle back to the Beneath.
In recent times, the duergar as a whole have begun to move away from the practice of slavery, employing more mechanical servitors to do grunt work. But they still find use in valuable targets as objects for ransom or information.
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Nerditor-in-Chief Doug Vehovec is a proud native of Cleveland, Ohio, with D&D in his blood since the early 80s. Fast forward to today and he’s still rolling those polyhedral dice. When he’s not DMing, world building, or working on endeavors for Nerdarchy or his own blog The Long Shot, he’s a newspaper designer, copy editor and journalist. He loves advocating the RPG hobby and connecting with other nerds and gamers on social media and his site thelongshotist.com.