4e: The Swallowers

There are tales told, in the deep and dark places of the world, about vast, floating multi-eyed magical monsters, their minds full of hate, seeing a world of imperfection and foulness that they refuse to abide, wanting to reshape and destroy it all at once. There are tales told about their variations and mutations, things that they see as vulgar but necessary – smaller versions of themselves, foul mutations and permutations.

But there are other variations, ones they don’t mean to make.

Swallowers are chaotic, anarchic creatures, who look like the famously powerful tyrants of the underdark, but sharing none of their ambition and hate. Instead, what they have is curiosity, bubbling up from within as they bounce and float around the world, exploring the world.

Glossary Note: Conventionally, the term used in D&D for this mechanical package is race. This is the typical term, and in most conversations about this game system, the term you’re going to wind up using is race. For backwards compatibility and searchability, I am including this passage here. The term I use for this player option is heritage.

I uh

I have no good explanation for why I made a 4e compatible race of Cute Beholders who Lick Magical Items.

But uh, here they are.

Swallower

Floating eye-beasts with big appetites and big enthusiasm

Sketch of a swallower assuming a threatening pose to cast a spell

Swallower Heritage Traits

Average Height: 0.8-1.3m (2’7″-4’3″)
Average Weight: 40-60 kg (88-132 lbs)

Ability Scores: +2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom or Intelligence
Size: Small
Speed: 2 squares, fly 6 squares (altitude limit 1). You cannot use your fly speed if you are carrying more than a normal load.
Vision: Darkvision

Languages: Common, plus any one.
Skill Bonuses: +2 Diplomacy, +2 Insight

Affront to Nature: You have the aberrant origin.

Swallower Stomach: You cannot equip gear like a normal character. Instead, you consume magical items and memorise their magical essence, allowing you to use them as if they were equipped. This is called ‘tasting’ by swallowers.

You can swallow as many items as you could normally carry, including mundane items. Each time you complete an extended rest, you choose which of them you are currently tasting, from which you gain the appropriate benefits. You can also reconfigure your tasted items during a short rest, but you must spend a healing surge to do so.

Items you have swallowed cannot be forcefully removed from you by any means. However, you can release one or more items by regurgitating them during a reconfiguration. You can also destroy one or more items you have swallowed by digesting them during an extended rest; after the rest, you body sheds a fine dust of residuum, as if you had used a disenchant magic item ritual.

Swallowing does not allow you to circumvent equipment slots, weapon and armour proficiencies, or load limitations. Even in the bizarre half-reality of a swallower’s gut, items resonate strongly with their intended form and purpose.

Flexible Fangs: You cannot wield weapons made for conventional bodies. Instead, you have a powerful bite; an unarmed melee weapon which has a +3 proficiency bonus and deals 1d8 damage. When you make a basic attack with your bite, you can use your highest ability modifier for attack and damage rolls.

Each time you complete an extended rest, you can rearrange your teeth and tongue to add a second weapon type to your bite: stabbing tongue (spear), shearing teeth (axe), needle fangs (light blade), mighty jaw (heavy blade) or crushing molars (hammer). While you are tasting a magic weapon that matches one of your bite’s weapon types, you can transfer the benefit of that enchantment (including its enhancement bonus) onto your bite.

Baleful Beam: You have the baleful beam heritage power.

Baleful BeamSwallower Heritage Power
You open your central eye wide and emit a powerful magical attack.
Encounter
Minor Action ✦ Close blast 3
Target: Each creature in the blast.
Attack: Highest ability modifier vs Will. You gain a +2 bonus to the attack roll.
Level 11: The bonus increases to +4
Level 21: The bonus increases to +6
Hit: 1d6+highest ability modifier damage.
Level 11: 2d6+highest ability modifier damage.
Level 21: 3d6+highest ability modifier damage.
Special: When you create your character, choose this power’s damage type: psychic, electric, necrotic or radiant. This choice remains throughout your character’s life.

The swallowers are a mistake that intends to make that everyone else’s problems. Attempts to coalesce powerful life forms from other ancient magicks, and unnameable tyrants of the underground rarely yields success—but it sometimes yields failures. Often mistaken for other monsters, swallowers aren’t the famously large and deadly subterranean beasts, but are instead much closer to the surface races. Particularly, it’s their ability to have empathy for others and to have a sense of fun that separates them from their aberrant origins.

Play a swallower if you want…

  • to be a weird monster that licks things
  • to have a wildly different physicality
  • to always have a magical item ability on hand if you need it
Sketch of a swallower chewing on the corner of a treasure chest

Physical Qualities

A swallower is a floating spherical creature, usually just under a meter around, with a body mass comparable to a large goblin. Their body is dominated by a large, expressive eye, under which is a huge fanged mouth. Jutting around their body are an array of short, stubby tentacles which it can use for in concert for some manipulation, though it’s more common to see them use their mouth and tongue for complicated devices.

A swallower’s skin is affected by their local climate; rough and dry in the warm, soft and fuzzy in the cold. Being heavily magical creatures, swallowers are adaptable in their lifetimes in a way most creatures aren’t. They rarely wear clothes, though it’s not uncommon for them to adorn themselves with decorative jewellery. Sometimes they will also drape scarves about their bodies.

Swallowers are naturally buoyant, typically hovering around chest height to a medium creature, and are surprisingly agile in the air. By contrast, they are cumbersome on land, reduced to rolling and bouncing themselves around through considerable effort.

Sketch of a swallower relaxing on the ground as it gobbles a magic amulet

Playing a Swallower

As a swallower, your primary way of interacting with the world is to see a vast space full of things you can lick, poke, eat, bite, or taunt. Fundamentally mischievous creatures dreamt into existence by a failed magical experiment, the average swallower has no vision of greater civilisation or some sort of cultural loyalty, and certainly no investment in aberrant monster races like themselves. You’re much more likely to be acquainted with or connected to someone who makes you feel happy or amused.

You have means to make things—you can definitely be creative and artistic if you want—but the default swallower sees themselves as a strange exception to a world that gave rise to them, and find that ridiculous. Swallowers are absolutely capable of understanding people, caring about their problems, fairness and unfairness—and even aspiring to great heroic deeds—but it’s always with a quiet chuckling at the ridiculousness of things.

Swallowers are perceived as…Oh god, what is that, is that—no, it’s too small. What the hell is—look at all the teeth

Names: Spog, Blat, Rargh, Burben, Elmfow, Ilmow

Without a centralising culture, Swallowers tend to pick names based on the people they first interact with, or that they find funny.

Sketch of a swallower sulking on the ground

1 draft
  • 1 year ago Update Original version published on Talen’s blog (press.invincible.ink)
1.0
  • 1 year ago Update Revised for the Square Fireball

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