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Banderhobbs were enigmatic monsters of shadow and flesh that seemingly hailed from the Shadowfell. They were known for capturing targets at random, by appearing from the shadows as they slept and stealing them away.
Banderhobbs were humongous creatures that superficially resembled giant bipedal toads. Scrawny sets of limbs ending in long keen claws strangely contrasted with their otherwise ogre-sized frames. Within the depths of their massive maws was a serpentine tongue along with two rows of saw-like fangs. Atop their amphibian-like heads was a pair of huge, bulbous eyes that appeared blank and empty.
Some banderhobbs lacked the immense size of their kin, being lithe and short where others were stout and tall. Their feet were normally flapping and flat, as they silently moved through the darkness. Other reported traits of the banderhobbs were inconsistent and variable, although it was fully possible that all of them were true.
Some banderhobbs were rumored to have extra-dimensional caverns within their stomachs. Reports of those who had been swallowed, stated they were taken to a strange room much larger than the creature. Within the depths of the stomach was a giant face, taking up about half the surface area of the room, with a hole in the middle leading to the true stomach. The ghastly outline was not a true face as it lacked eyes and was distorted, elongated, and a ghastly-white that contrasted with the rest of their flesh-colored insides.
After being swallowed by a banderhobb, it was possible to carve a path out of them from the inside, but it had to be done quickly before digestion was completed.
From shadows deep
In voiceless night
When stars alight
Upon the bleak and moonless blight.
While most of the malevolent forces of the Shadowfell were driven by dark emotions such as hatred, jealousy, spite, or sheer ego, banderhobbs held no such feelings. At the same time, no action they committed was based in kindness, respect, or adoration. Emotions were an alien concept to the banderhobb mind and even urges like hunger and sleep were not things they desired to do but processes they recognized they had to undergo.
The truly terrifying aspect of the banderhobbs was that they were completely apathetic to their situation, striving only to complete the missions assigned to them. They could not be driven to acts of anger, frightened away, or made to feel sorrow, nor did they make challenges or waste time gloating. Entirely subservient to whatever nebulous entity commanded them, banderhobbs were practically impossible to manipulate. They had no personal compulsions, completed their mission even if it inevitably ended in their own death, and kept their assigned goals so well hidden that they could not be used against them.
Assuming that banderhobbs were unthinking soldiers, however, was a grave mistake that only benefited the monsters. The absolute obedience often mistaken for mindlessness allowed a banderhobb to make completely logical assessments without impulse or emotion impeding its thinking. Both cunning and incredibly aware, a banderhobb could make swift tactical decisions and even decide to retreat if it believed that it was the most efficient path to completing its task. Despite their inability to verbally communicate, they could receive commands to an intriguingly deep degree. Unlike automatons they were capable of recognizing idioms, metaphors, dialects, and otherwise reading into the non-literal meaning of commands, with individuals being able to better comprehend different tongues.
Their clutching claws
Crush bones like straws;
They bolt their prey
And stoop away
Before the dawning break of day.
Great strength lay hidden within the seemingly scrawny arms of the banderhobb, with bone-crushing claws capable of squeezing the life out of the most physically capable mortals. Their tongues were controlled by a plethora of muscles, faster than a coiled snake, and with a grip tighter than a giant python. Masterfully manipulating their tongues, they could quickly wrap their victims up and drag them towards their gaping maws. Within their gullets laid the bodies of whoever they had consumed, possibly still alive, as well as weapons, clothes, or anything they had been instructed to steal.
One known process by which they found their targets was by being provided with some part of their body like hair or blood, or a piece of something they carried, like clothing. Once given the piece, they could track down the person or object so long as they were only one mile (1.6 km) away, although they might possess other techniques or hunting abilities.
Mysteriously, their inability to form words did not prevent them from communicating with one another. Silent staring with their glassy eyes somehow allowed them to convey complex messages, and they could ascertain the motivation and plans of other creatures. It was unknown whether this was the exercise of some kind of telepathic ability. Another unknown factor of the banderhobb's behavior was whether emotion-based magic could alter their behavior or if they were entirely cut off from feelings, magical or otherwise.
The most fearsome of the banderhobbs' supernatural powers was their link to the world of shadows. Using their wide eyes and special receptors in their skin, banderhobbs were able to uniquely sense the presence of crossings between the other planes and the Shadowfell. Some claimed that they traveled between the planes using ritual markings carved onto their torsos.
Even if a crossing point was too small for them to travel through, their unending patience let them wait until they were sufficiently stretched enough to allow them to. Banderhobbs in the Shadowfell could even reach through the darkness, striking and grabbing the unwary residents of the material world and possibly dragging them back through the relatively small gate. When in need of a hasty retreat, banderhobbs could teleport short distances to nearby shadow or dimly lit regions. Disregarding their space-warping means of escape, banderhobbs were often as quiet and creeping as the shadows they resided in, despite their hulking size.
One variety was the filch. Unlike their gargantuan kin, they had a diminutive stature. Filches grabbed their victims alive and placed them in sacks they hefted over their backs. Filches were almost skittish in behavior, quickly lashing out at any noise that caught their angular ears and jumping at those who surprised them. Whether this constituted an emotional response, or simply a hyperactive mind was not known, as most who suffered their outbursts were dragged off along with their targets.
Banderhobb warders specialized in the chase, hunting down their targets ruthlessly until caught. Wherever their targets attempted to flee there was a significant chance the warder had already teleported there, cutting off their prey at every turn. For most banderhobbs, hunting in the day could be difficult; Warders however excelled in this task.
Abductors specialized in consuming prey whole and slowly digesting them.
Banderhobbs exited portals from their realms along or in pairs, but the exact numbers varied based on the scale of the invasion. They maintained an orderly march through areas of thin shadows, and when returning with their quarry, allowed the carrier to pass first while the others remained to clean up anyone who heard of their escapades. Those who heard anything about them were eliminated within the next year, and anyone who leaked their secrets was practically doomed to be stolen away. Shadow wolves and howlers were the only entities they were known to collaborate with when pulling off their kidnappings.
There also existed a ritual to conjure a banderhobb through a combination of flesh and shadow. Hags were chiefly in possession of this knowledge but other dark fey, great fiends, and corrupt mortal wizards knew the secrets to such a process.
Once a banderhobb completed their mission, they would expire, leaving behind only shadowy wisps and tar-like slime. Without their masters having some other plan for their captives, it was often thought that the banderhobbs simply consumed their victims, although they may have been a process to create more of their kind.
Origins and creationEdit
Where banderhobb goes;
Leaving no trace
Of the place no-place—
Just a trackless trail
Where shadows prevail
Beyond the ever-darkened veil.
Archfey often supported the interpretation that banderhobbs were the shadowy cousins of the dimension-hopping boggles, although these stories had a tendency to blend with those of the goblinoids. Astral Sea denizens of significant strength and age sometimes claimed the banderhobbs were of an elder race and that only nineteen truly existed.
More modern claims held that the first banderhobb was created in the earliest days of the world by a coven of night hags, although whether they were truly created by the night hags or if they were simply the first to summon them was not understood.
However, the most horrifying of these tales was based within the Shadowfell itself. Natives of the plane claimed there was a dark tower, located past the Stormy Sea, in which banderhobbs roamed freely pursuing their ominous agenda. It was impossible to find the name of the place, but the Vistani of Ravenloft referred to it as "No-Place".
This locale was overseen by an abominable supernatural power that was far from divine in nature. The being was claimed to be the creator of the banderhobb race and commanded them to commit their terrible thefts. Most terrifying of the legend of the black tower was that the banderhobbs built it themselves, with every whispered tale of their existence acting as a brick in its walls, and that through every incomprehensible act of terror the tower grew in size.
- Steve Townshend (October 2011). “The Ecology of the Banderhobb”. In Steve Winter ed. Dungeon #195 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 29–35.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Wizards RPG Team (2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 122. ISBN 978-0786966011.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Mike Mearls, Greg Bilsland and Robert J. Schwalb (June 15, 2010). Monster Manual 3 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 18–19. ISBN 0786954902.
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 Steve Townshend (October 2011). “The Ecology of the Banderhobb”. In Steve Winter ed. Dungeon #195 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 29–35.