(This announcement brought to you by Gunther Taxidermy, conveniently located in Walthamthorp. Gunther Taxidermy: Preserve the Adventure!)
Their existence has been whispered about for generations, to the point they were thought to be things of legend spoken of around campfires merely to spook green recruits.
But now, Gunther Taxidermy is proud to reveal the truth about these rare creatures! Their pelts were found deep in the family vaults on Baron Walthamthorp's estate and their provenance puzzled the Baron's chief archivist.
Upon request from the Baron himself, Gunther Fishkiller has spent the past seventeen mooncycles tracking down the sources of these pelts, gathering and confirming the known lore to positively, once and for all reveal the truth about the animals from whence they came.
Gathered here in one location is the sum of our true knowledge of these fearsome creatures of the under dark.
Occasionally it happens that inexperienced dungeon robbers and others wandering beneath the east disappear completely. Guides are unable to locate them, rescue teams come back empty handed, further parties seeking adventure and riches never come across their remains, and all kinds of theories are offered to explain the disappearances.
From the limestone caverns of Northern Kirlangen came the rumor of an animal called the Snickerjack, the existence of which may shed some light upon the fate of those who fail to come back to town. According to the Brothers of the Order of the Fist (brewers of the realms-famous Miasmimosa bitter brew) who had been enlarging the natural caverns beneath their monasteries to age their ales and pilasters, the Snickerjack is a blood-thirsty, wolf-like creature of disturbing proportions. It has a wolfish head and body but deer-like legs sporting small, delicate hooves. Its unique method of attack is to station itself upon a pathway, generally at a bend in a tunnel, where it stands on its diminutive hind legs and whirls. The speed is increased until the animal is nearly invisible, and the motion produces a strange snickering sound, as if the animal is wickedly laughing, which seems to come from random directions and is impossible to pinpoint.
Any creature coming along the pathway and not recognizing the sound is almost certain to walk into the danger zone and become instantly deposited in the form of syrup or varnish in the gaping maw of the Snickerjack (Save vs. Deathray or face death by instant liquification).
The Snickerjack is understood to be a solitary creature, preferring to run away rather than fight. It will fight only in defense of its lair, especially if their whelps are present.
The Irrepressible Snoo
In the foggy regions along underground rivers and lakes there resides a creature that causes much annoyance to adventurers. This is the Irrepressible Snoo, which is so rare that only once in a great while does an unlucky adventurer stumble across one. It is believed to remain in hiding among stalagmites and flowstone, from where it sallies forth occasionally on frightful marauding expeditions. During these periods of activity the beast is always hungry and devours anything it can find that looks like food. A whole horse may be eaten at one sitting, distending the Irrepressible Snoo out of all porportions, but failing to appease its hunger or cause it the slightest discomfort.
The specimens seen are reported to have been coal black, but that may have been due to their being seen by dim torch or lantern light, as they are truly a dullish brown color (except for the ultra-rare Irrepressible Albino Snoo). In size the beast corresponds closely to a large otter or badger, for which it might be mistaken. It has prominent, sad-looking eyes and some long, whisker-like hairs on its nose but the body is smooth, tough, and shiny and bears not even a wrinkle.
The animal is a tireless traveler when looking for food, but is not swift in its movements or annoyed in the slightest degree by the presence of enemies. The latter characteristic is easily accounted for by the fact that no other animal within its range has ever found a successful method of attacking an Irrepressible Snoo or a vulnerable spot in its anatomy. Whatever strikes the beast bounds off with the same force. Its elastic hide hurls back with equal ease the swift-swung axe and most magical attacks. An arrow or spear thrown at the creature bounds back at whoever threw it, and a bolt shot against its hide is sure to strike the hunter between the eyes.
It is believed that the scarcity of the Irrepressible Snoo is due to its combustible character and the prevalence of forest fires. The animal burns like kindling and then explodes with devastating force. Frequently during and after mining operations near underground waterways, gnomes and dwarves have insisted that they heard loud reports quite unlike the sound of black powder, and detected the smell of burning ginseng in the air.
A widely distributed and frightfully destructive animal is the Hmmphcoocat. It is found from Northern Kirlangen to Walthamthorp, and eastward to Lochnamsh, but past Darkwood Shire it has been reported in only a few localities. Apparently the Hmmphcoocat inhabits those parts of the under dark in which fire beetles, giant spiders, and carrion crawlers are found. These are its natural food, and the animal prowls the passageways of caverns dark and deep every day, shattering rockslides and smashing through locked doors in pursuit of its prey.
The Hmmphcoocat accomplishes its destructive work in a simple but effective manner: it merely stares at the object blocking its path with a sneer of contempt on its face. Striking squarely at the obstruction with its hard face, the Hmpmphcocat passes right on, leaving doors broken and shattered as though struck by lightning or snapped off by a troll. Appalling destruction has been wrought by this animal in the City-States of the Cave Gnomes, where its work is often ascribed to rockworms.
The Marlafix will ask you for a smoke. DO NOT SHARE YOUR PIPEWEED WITH A MARLAFIX! Refusing to do so will cause the Marlafix to shrug nonchalantly and slink away into the shadows.
If you do share your pipeweed, you will wake up the next morning with the Marlafix in your bed, and it will shortly announce it loves you and is moving in with you, and will shortly thereafter steal your heart, your good silver, and your most recent romantic interest, leaving you destitute yet happy in a wistful way until you see the Marlafix at a local tavern drinking it up and making snide comments about your performance in the sack, at which point you will blow your cool, hook up with some bar scum in a short-sighted attempt to make the Marlafix jealous, contract 2d4 strains of various Dungeon Funk and spend six moons seeking various cures to your ailments, at which point thereafter you will receive a lovely handwritten note from the Marlafix inquiring about your well-being and asking you to join it for lunch, which you will be compelled to attend and find to be very satisfying (especially the paleberry tarts)--and during the third course, the Marlafix will apologize for its past behavior and ask your forgiveness (which, of course, you will be compelled to grant) and then it will cackle wickedly and run out on the check, leaving you with a hefty tab it ran up before your luncheon date. At least, this is what Yalek Aieleek of Darkwood Shire reports.
All images snatched from here.
Descriptions manipulated and blatantly plagiarized from descriptions of beasts found in Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods by William T. Cox (Judd & Detweiler, 1910), which is now in the public domain.