A hulking humanoid cloaked in ragged cloth limps forward, its malformed, tumorous arms ending in claws the length of scythe blades. From beneath its rags droop lengths of loose flesh and a strangled wheezing issues from its deformed lips.
Speed 30 ft.
Str 17, Dex 8, Con 14, Int 7, Wis 12, Cha 6
Thawns find the appearance of themselves and others of their kind revolting. As such, most wear heavy cloaks or otherwise obscure their countenances. All thawns within 30 feet of an uncloaked thawn must make a DC 15 Will save or be sickened for 1 round. This repulsion is all the more severe when a thawn sees its own reflection. Should a thawn be confronted with its own reflection (such as being presented with a mirror) it must make a DC 15 Will save or be sickened for 1d4+1 rounds.
Environment temperate hills and plains
Organization solitary, pair, or gang (3–8)
Grotesque nomads native to wretched plains and barren hills, thawns seem to bear the curse of both nature and the divine. Ogre-like in stature and dimwittedness, these monstrously ugly humanoids bear fold upon fold of sagging, excess flesh, draping them in wrinkled, poxriddled hides. This wretched appearance, in tandem with their great size and monstrous claws, leads most creatures to shun them. Indeed, even thawns find one another repulsive, creating a barely tolerable society of universal mistrust and loathing.
Thawns average 9 feet tall and their excess skin pushes their average weight to 700 pounds.
Often called “mud giants” due to the foul, mottled skin that hangs loosely from their misshapen frames, thawns are universally malformed and dreadful, though each is quite distinctive in its singular monstrousness. Hair only grows in small tufts—thick, oily, and black. Their eyes easily pick up the flaws in their appearance, driving them to hide their figures as much as possible. Such revulsion of their form has led many scholars to hypothesize that thawns once possessed a different one, potentially relating them directly to ogres, hill giants, or other humanoids victimized by the hands of some more powerful and malicious race. Such possibilities remain nothing more than conjecture, however, as the brutes have no ability and even less interest in retaining details of their history. Even with this overpowering self-loathing, ancient instincts drive thawns together for safety and procreation, and no other race tolerates their ugliness and savagery.
Opportunistic feeders, thawns seek out fresh battlefields and the scraps of slain beasts, reluctantly sharing their pickings with other parasites and scavengers. Alone as they wander the lands, thawns take care of their own needs first and foremost, caring little for others of their kind. Disdaining anything like a fair fight, they excel at crafting clever decoys and simple traps. Though sizable creatures, thawns typically strive to draw as little attention to themselves as possible, preferring to craft convincing dummies from mud, stone, and animal carcasses while they wait in hiding.
Habitat & Society
Most thawns collect in nomadic groups, wandering grim plains and moody hills more like ravaging gangs than tribes traveling out of necessity. While their dim intellects provide them the most basic tools to seek out what they need to survive, their lives prove pitiful and often violently short. Hateful of themselves and their own kind, thawns aspire to no great works. Their nomadism thus comes less from need as from indifference, as one ugly hillside or leaking cave proves little better or worse than any other. It’s their own inhabitance that causes most thawns to move on, as once they’ve despoiled an area, it’s then time to find new lands. This cycle of pillaging and pressing on proves uncomfortable to most thawns, but most lack the foresight to live any other way. Groups of thawns prove highly changeable, with members joining and leaving with little hesitation. As no love is lost between members, the savages drift apart as the whim takes them. Typically such changes in group structure go ignored, unless those left behind believe their former kinsman possesses some valuable information or reason for departing.
Thawns don’t believe in hoarding material possessions, disdaining most metals and valuables in part because shiny surfaces invariably betray their monstrous visages to them. They use whatever is nearest at hand to satisfy their basic needs, though some carry with them items of simple usefulness or trophies of brutal victories. They move away from defended and civilized areas out of simple survival instinct, but attack small groups of humanoids if driven to desperation. Occasionally some uninformed samaritan attempts to take pity on a thawn, believing it cast out merely for its appearance and simplicity. Such charity typically proves fatal, though, as in the case of these hulks, their outward ugliness matches a dull-witted sadism and raving, violent hatred of all living things. Even ogres, with whom they hold many similarities, revile thawns as mindless killers and bogeymen, attacking and slaying them on sight.
If mud giants excel at any one thing, it’s physical deception. Knowing most creatures’ hatred of them and their widespread treatment as dangerous lepers, they have learned to hide themselves where no sane creature would lurk and deceive eyes that would seek them with loathing. Thus, thawns willingly lair and hide amid filth-choked pools, muddy ravines, rotting bogs, and worse places. To aid them in their ambushes, they often create cunningly hidden pits, similar simple traps, and, most notoriously, decoys. With their misshapen frames, it’s not difficult to mistake a tall, awkward pile of mud and rocks covered in rags for a thawn, while the reverse also proves dangerously true. More than one wary traveler, sighting a thawn-like shape upon a low hillock or on a dusty trail, has circled widely to avoid the dangerous hunter only to blunder into the ambush of the true thawn lurking in wait.
Thawns rarely keep any possessions other than those which they can carry, these typically being crude or foul items even the most desperate wayfarers wouldn’t consider clothing or food. In filthy sacks or—even more revoltingly— slung in useful flesh folds, there is a 40% chance that any thawn possesses 1d4 unsettling items, typically scraps of skin, leather, and stolen cloth for the creation of new cloaks; trophies of skulls, bones, and hide bound into crude fetishes; and rotting animal meat of unwholesome cuts and uncertain origin. Such things are typically soiled beyond use and rarely valuable, but often suggest what victims the mud giant has recently preyed upon and where their foul wanderings have led them.