Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The Nasnas of Syr Darya

[Apologies once again for the dreadful art.]

From the journal of Laxmi Ghuptra Dahl:

Before I arrived in Syr Darya I had of course heard of the strange appearance of its populace. After all, apart from the city's architectural beauty and the power of its magic, it is that for which the city is chiefly famed. But nevertheless on my arrival I was shocked by the throngs of deformed and ungainly half-men who hopped through its streets, and I could barely stand to enter the city from revulsion. Nothing in the tales of travellers had prepared me for the sight.

After several weeks in Syr Darya I had grown somewhat used to its wretched people, and I ventured out of my dwelling to find out why they had become this way. I went in search of one of the city's elders, an Ogre Magi by the name of Wahid Qasemi, who I had been told was favourably disposed to outsiders and something of an expert on his city's history.

The Ogre Magi are the only people living in Syr Darya who are whole (apart from some travellers and merchants). I asked him why it should be that those of his own race were unaffected by the affliction, while all of the human citizenry were stricken so.

"It is a long tale whose details I will spare you," he told me, "But it began some five centuries ago, when my people first came to this city. At that time we were wanderers from plague and war in the West, and we came to the mountains seeking fortune and employment as mercenary warriors. At that time the people of Syr Darya were handsome, fair-haired and tall, indeed a wondrous sight."

He paused and blew a great cloud of smoke from his hookah. "My ancestors found employ with the Rajah of Syr Darya, who used us in his many battles against rival states in the mountains - cities which are now long left to ruin. With our aid he laid all of his enemies low, and all of Sughd paid him homage. But even then his greed overtook him and he refused to offer us payment for our years of service.

"Now, my people is a learned one, and we had heard legends of a great demon living in these mountains, known as The Shikk. The Shikk can perform any task he is given, but he is both capricious and hungry, and he always demands a heavy toll for any boon he grants. My people were prepared to make any sacrifice, however, to exact revenge on the greedy Rajah. They summoned The Shikk and asked him for his aid in stealing Syr Darya away from the Rajah forever, and taking the city for their own.

"The Shikk granted their wish, and destroyed Syr Darya's armies while my ancestors stormed the palace. There they took the Rajah and his many wives and children and sliced them into pieces, spending three nights and three days in the process. Finally they were sated, and they looked out upon the beautiful city which they now intended to make their own.

"But The Shikk had taken a heavy toll indeed. The great demon believed that, since he had done at least half the work, he should also have half the prize. So he took the left side of every human being in the city for his own, leaving the people of Syr Darya forever cursed with but the right half of their bodies. My ancestors gained the city, but it has only ever been a pale imitation of what it once was."

Wahid Qasemi had been animated in the telling, particularly as he described the deaths of the old Rajah and his many wives and children. But now his voice became bitter and he said, "The people you see in the city today are the same as lived here five hundred years ago. Whether because of The Shikk's magic of some other reason we do not understand, the
nasnas are undying, and can never die. We Magi are the rulers of but half a city and will be forever more - until, perhaps, we one day find a way to take back from The Shikk what he took from us."


Armour Class: 5
Hit Dice: 4+1*
Move: 90'
Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: By weapon +1 (usually halberd, sword, axe or spear)
No. Appearing: 1-20 (in mountains); 200-2000 (in city)
Save As: D5
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: S
Intelligence: 9
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 125
Type: Undead (rare)

Special Defenses:

Immunity to Normal Weapons: Nasnas are vulnerable only to silver or magical weapons.

Nasnas compose 90% of the citizenry of Syr Darya and females, children and non-combatants are present in the usual amounts. These statistics are for a typical member of the city guard.


  1. They have them in Africa, too...

  2. that's ...322.htm if it gets cut off in your browser too

  3. Cool stuff. They're originally from one of the Arabian Nights tales... I can't remember the title though. The 1001 nights are like a great vein of almost untapped D&D monster potential waiting to be mined.

  4. My fave arabian night story was the one where the prince is half-buried in a block of stone or something.

  5. Brilliant! This is what D&D has been alcking for so very long. Give us more myth and folklore and less muscular and hard edged gnomes.


  6. Barking Alien: Thanks. I'm sick of the hard-edged muscular D&D stuff too; you're not the only one!