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Minion of Akh'All the Unmentionable (Zhochal):

by Geoff Gander

Armour Class: 4
Hit Dice: 3* (M)
Move: 60' (20'); 210' (70') flying
Attacks: 2 weapons or 4 tentacles or 1 swoop
Damage: by weapon or 1d4+1 per tentacle or special
No. Appearing: 1d6 (3d8)
Save As: F 4
Morale: 9
Treasure Type: E
Intelligence: 15
Alignment: Neutral or Chaotic
XP Value: 50

The minions of Akh'All the Unmentionable, otherwise known as the Zhochal, are a race unlike any seen on Mystara, and the other planes they are known to inhabit. They are roughly human-sized creatures, averaging 6' in height, but their appearance is found by many to be highly disturbing. To an untrained observer they appear to be insects, due to their mottled greenish-grey chitinous exoskeletons, but they possess far more than six appendages, and their heads are not even remotely insect-like.

Where arms should be, two sinewy tentacles extend from each side of the "chest". These tentacles are each two feet long, and highly dexterous, capable of manipulating items as complex as crossbows. The Zhochal also possess four spindly legs, two on each side of their streamlined bodies. As a result, they walk in the manner of bipeds, albeit with a tottering gait. Whenever they can, the Zhochal will fly to their selected destinations, using their two membranous wings, which emit a low whirring noise when in motion. When not in flight, the wings are folded up under the carapace. Their heads are rather large for their bodies, extending crest-like backwards. Dominating their faces are three red eyes, and extending beneath them are four thin tentacles, each ending with a tiny mouth. Intelligent creatures, the Zhochal are capable of speech, either in their own tongue (a language of buzzing noises and clicking), or in other local languages, though their voices still have a buzzing undertone that listeners find disconcerting. Although their reproductive cycle is unknown, explorers who ventured near their cities have found large collections of black spheres in protected locations, believed to be eggs. Their diet is also unknown.

The Zhochal are highly intelligent and individualistic creatures, living in complicated networks of caverns and citadels high in the mountains, where they live in loose communities. In fact, it is the Zhochal who inspired some of the common legends about "strange mountain-men", or "yetis" who abduct travellers. So feared are the Zhochal in remote hillside communities that the darkest nights are considered times of great evil; those wandering alone outside have been known to "disappear". The Zhochal are quite prolific; in the roughly 2,000 years since they were brought to Mystara, they have established strongholds in most of the major mountain ranges of eastern Brun and northern Davania.

Although servants of Akh'All, among the mightiest of Outer Beings, the Zhochal are largely independent. Some have even abandoned the worship of that foul being, and can thus be considered to be Neutral in alignment. Those that serve Akh'All function as his eyes and ears, flying abut Mystara and spying on important people, and meeting with worshippers to ensure they remain loyal. They have also been known to abduct people who have learned too much about the Outer Beings and their plots.

In combat, Zhochal may either attack four times with their tentacles, or wield two weapons of any type. They are also very strong for their size, able to life weights of up to 250 lbs., and carry them for considerable distances in flight. When fighting, they may also swoop down on a foe, and if a successful attack roll is made, they can grab their opponent and haul them into the air, and then drop them from great heights. The Zhochal also possess infravision, being able to see up to 90' in the dark.

Unlike other servants of the Outer Beings, the Zhochal are not vulnerable to spells and magic items that target those entities and their servants. Sages have speculated that this is because they are a wholly independent race, who voluntarily serve the Outer Beings, but are not totally subservient to them.