History of Splatter-Elf: The Grumblesnatch Wars

In case you're new here (in which case, welcome aboard!), Splatter-Elf is a "Grimmer-than-Grimdark" table-top RPG game I'm pulling out of my butt based almost entirely on this post by Philip Overby. I've been going on about it for months. More detail about The Grumblesnatch is available at the Splatter-Elf Blog.

If you're not new here and you're fed up about me going on about Splatter-Elf for months, I'm not going to apologize because you probably haven't read this far anyway. 

FIRST GRUMBLESNATCH WAR (c. 1000 years ago)

It all began innocuously enough. Tales began began to drift into the cities of the Inner Baronies of increased grumble activity in the more remote regions of Groteskia. It was hardly newsworthy; Grumbles always attack and burn down farms and villages and besiege travelers on the roads. That's what grumbles, farms and travelers are for. But as the weeks passed and the rural townships raised militia to fight off the invaders, the stories began to whisper that the grumbles were getting bigger, and stronger, and smarter. The lords and barons of the rural lands begged the cities for help, and the more civilized populace politely ignored them and went about their business.

Soon armies of full-sized grumblesnatches were pouring into the forests of the taur-en-nuru elves, and the elves were pissed. They met the evolved grumbles head-on, and quickly the forests were rocked by pitched, bloody battles of horrific proportions. No matter how hard the splatter-elves fought, the grumblesnatches just seemed to keep multiplying and getting stronger and bigger. Soon the hobsnatches appeared, and the elves were overrun, and the Grumblesnatch War suddenly came to the doorstep of the Inner Baronies.

Finally waking up and saying "Oh shit, this might be a problem," the kings and barons and other hoity-toity rich people of the cities did the only thing they knew how to make the trouble go away: They spent money. Untold fortunes were used to hire all the best and most legendary warriors Groteskia has ever seen (and more than a few of the least notable - anyone stupid enough to pick up a sword, really) to try and hunt down and destroy the source of the grumblesnatch infestation. Though it took quite some time (and the deaths of countless would be "heroes"), eventually the Hives were identified and wiped out, the Brood Mothers destroyed. The grumble hoard was finally turned back, and the world returned to its usual ebb and flow of treachery, wandering monsters and slightly-less-world-threatening wars.

Image Copyright 2014 Philip Overby. No one else would take responsibility for it anyway.

Long after the First War passed into legend, the grumbles began appearing again in worrying numbers. Vaguely remembering the results of the last war (but not, unfortunately, how they won it) the peoples of Groteskia joined forces and met the threat head-on, trying to wipe out the plague before it could spread.

They only succeeded in making the grumbles angry. And you don't like the grumbles when they're angry.

Threatened by such immense force and resistance, the grumblesnatches began breeding and multiplying at a terrible rate. Brood Mothers and Hives cropped up all over the world, and the creatures were evolving so fast that in just a few months the previously unseen (and pants-shittingly terrifying) grumblebeetles began appearing.

On the verge of world-wide genocide, the peoples of Groteskia finally got their shit together and someone thought to open a history book to look up how the grumbles were defeated last time. With the combined effort of the splatter-elves, dump dwarves, uffs, northern berserkers, trolls, giants, rat people and anyone else who could pick up a weapon, eventually the Hives were all hunted down and destroyed, but the process took many long, bloody years.

The repercussions of the Second War are still felt today. The land is dotted with the ruins of destroyed kingdoms, castles and towns. The splatter-elves, who were nearly driven extinct, blame pretty much everyone else for their plight and hate every other intelligent creature in the world. The only bright spot from an otherwise dark point in history is that at least this time, people remembered and prepared for the next time...

THIRD GRUMBLESNATCH WAR (50 to 20 years ago)

There are many still alive today who personally lived through the Third War, and so both the successes and spectacular failures of that era still live fresh in the minds of those who experienced it.

When the grumbles started appearing five decades ago, the people of Groteskia didn't rush headlong to try and destroy them. Learning from past mistakes they carefully and systematically culled the herds to keep the numbers in check without sparking their inevitable rapid multiplication and evolution. This went on for years, but as the kingdoms and empires learned how to deal with and live alongside the constant potential risk of annihilation, a few enterprising individuals began to ponder how the threat of mass destruction could be used to their political and financial gain...

Certain nations began to threaten their neighbours that unless they paid them tribute and fealty, they would "poke the nest with a stick" and unleash the grumblesnatch plague. Soon this idea caught on and threats were flying back and forth across the land, as was a rapid stockpiling of weapons and the marshaling of forces in case someone was foolish enough to actually provoke the grumbles into a full-fledged war.

Tensions rose slowly for decades, until a few small baronies actually did start prodding the grumbles for fear that their threats weren't being taken seriously enough. It looked like the world would be plunged into another devastating conflict, even though the land had not fully recovered from the last one.

Having had enough and facing the Eve of Destruction, a small alliance of kingdoms pooled their resources and hired The Jasper Rat of Schetzera to disintegrate the main Grumblesnatch Hive with a tiny black hole, instantly ending thirty years of armed standoff. The kingdoms of Groteskia grudgingly lowered their weapons and went back to their own business...

...except many believe the war never truly ended. Rumours persist that other, smaller Hives still exist throughout the land. It is said that some nations still use the threat of the grumbles to bully their neighbours, except these threats are now made quietly, and no one dares openly reveal the truth for fear of causing another world-wide arms race. It is believed that some soulless individuals are actually encouraging the grumbles to breed quietly secret, and providing them with weapons and armor while they build their numbers in secret.

But surely such stories are merely the tales of town drunks and cloistered conspiracy theorists, aren't they?


Full details on the society and ecology of the Grumblesnatch appeared at Philip Overby's Splatter-Elf Blog last week, but for those following at home here are the game statistics to go along with it.

Small, nasty creatures often mistaken for goblins, grumbles are dangerous in large numbers. They love to fight from ambush and when facing tough foes will set up traps to pick off one or two foes at a time before retreating and setting up another ambush.

Wounds: Minor 1, Major 2, Dead 3
Movement: 30' (6 squares)
Hacking +2, Hurling +3, Guard +2, Guts +1, Aegis +1
Attacks: By weapon, usually a spear, sword or sling
Skills: Bushwhacker, Skullduggery
Abilities: Gangbang - Grumbles prefer to overwhelm their opponents and drag them down. One of the group is chosen as the main attacker, and for each ally helping the primary attacker he gains a +1 bonus to his Hacking roll. On a hit, the victim suffers one damage, is knocked prone, and cannot use his shield until he fights his way out. Up to 6 grumbles may gang up on a single man-sized creature.
Weaknesses: Grumbles hate sunlight and lights brighter than a torch or lantern. They will usually flee or avoid bright lights where possible, and if forced to fight in light they suffer a -3 penalty to their rolls.

Full-sized, mature grumblesnatches are fearsome opponents. The deadly on the battle field, they prefer to set traps and ambushes for their prey.

Wounds: Minor 2, Major 3, Severe 4, Dead 5
Movement: 30' (6 squares)
Hacking +3, Hurling +3, Guard +4, Guts +2, Aegis +2
Attacks: By weapon, usually a spear, sword or sling, though specialists may carry a bow or firearm
Skills: Bushwhacker
Weakness: Grumblesnatches dislike bright lights and will not go out in sunlight, though they are not as weak against it as Grumbles. If forced to fight in bright light they suffer a -1 penalty to their rolls.

Hobsnatches are the lieutenants and shock troops of the grumblesnatch army. They are far more intelligent, can learn other languages and are adept at military strategy. They are also more closely connected to the Hive Mind and can receive direct telepathic communication from the Queen, and can rely complciated telepathic commands to grumbles and grumblesnatches.

Wounds: Minor 2, Major 4, Severe 6, Dead 8
Movement: 30' (6 squares)
Hacking +5, Hurling +4, Guard +6, Guts +4, Aegis +3
Attacks: By weapon, usually a spear or sword, PLUS a bite for 1 wound damage. They also usually carry a bow or firearm.
Skills: Acuity, Bushwhacker
Abilities: Leadership - Other Grumbles and Grumblesnatches gain +1 to their Hacking and Hurling rolls when fighting alongside a Hobsnatch.

Flying, 300-pound insectoid monstrosities, grumblebeetles are terrifying to behold. They can project their insectoid thoughts into the minds of enemies, driving them temporarily insane. They are also telekinetic and pyrokinetic. Grumblebeetles have full telephatic two-way communication with the Brood Mother at any distance.

Wounds: Minor 3, Major 6, Severe 9, Dead 12
Movement: 10' (2 squares) or 35' (7 squares) flying
Hacking +7, Hexing +6, Guard +8, Guts +7, Aegis +5
Attacks: 4 hits (4 damage bite or 2 damage bite + 2 claw attacks)
Skills: Acuity +2
Abilities: Telekinisis - Grumblebeetles may lift up to 50 pounds of inanimate material withing 50 feet; Pyrokinesis - May create fire bursts equivalent to Belching Paroxysm of Searing Hell-Flame up to 2/day); Mind Blast - Cause fear and madness in 1 target within 50 feet with a Hexing attack that lasts 1-6 rounds, may only affect 1 target at a time; Insectoid Mind - Immune to mind-affecting attacks such as fear, charm, sleep, illusions, etc.


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