This map and meenlock were one I used recently in my 5th Ed. Dungeons and Dragons Campaign. (There’s a few more maps that go along with it that I’ll post as well.) This one was a lone, ruined tower which the PCs sought refuge in on an island across from another island on which a horde of orcs were making camp and which held the Tower of Innisquil the Humourless. Unfortunately for the PCs, the island was home to a nasty little non-traditional family of Meenlocks.
Meenlocks are particularly horrible little guys and I love them for it. They make their homes in caverns connected to the surface or other caverns by long winding moss-packed tubes that smell like rotten corpses. They stalk people, cause them to hallucinate, and eventually kidnap them so as to drag them back to their lairs and turn these victims into more meenlocks. I imagine a meenlock raid on a campsite to steal victims is a romantic outing for these critters, akin to a night of mini-golf with your sweetie that leads to an unexpected firstborn. In my game, we never really got into the psychosocial hows and what-tos of the Meenlocks or what brought them to the remote island. But you can!
Here are the stats I used for the meenlocks (they’re a bit rough and specifically for my game so there’s no challenge rating calculated) and a few ideas that might be of some help to understand things from these poor little buggers’ point of view.
Roll a 1d4 for Meenlock background:
1. They Came From Beyond… The meenlocks on Swampwatch Isle believe they are the successors of a great race of beings who hail from beyond that really funny shaped hill downriver that looks a little bit like a broken pig’s snout.
2. Ye Olde Child Placement Services. In recent decades, the nearby village of Blubber’s Stobb has been racked with famine, savage man-pig raids from the Wallowed Swamps, and poor municipal investments (specifically the paying of one Morgo the Mustachioed for a village square revitalization project which left Blubber’s Stobb 537 gold pieces in debt and with an overabundance of collectable fake arm stumps in honor of the village’s founder). This has left them in dire straits. Many hideous children have been born of what the village alderwomen claim to be dalliances between the town’s goodwives and the more dashing of the man-pig raiders over the past five years (and some who are just ugly enough from malnutrition to pass as half-man-pigs). This has left the town with only one choice: they must take revitalization efforts into their own hands and the first thing to do is divest themselves of the man-pig (and otherwise funny looking kid) taint in order to draw in adventurers and scallywags to invest in local businesses again. They’ve already sold the nearby ruined castle of Angfark Keep to a young, up-and-coming (but down on his luck) warlock by the name of Tobo the Toeless so as to attract business. Now, they just need to get rid of these damned ugly kids so as not to scare off the adventuring types from their more attractive, far more marriageable stock. So, they’ve been, upon the first full moon following the children’s eighth birthdays (that ripe age when you can tell whether a kid is going to fill out in any profitable way), they carry the kids on a boat ride up the [Insert Appropriate Name so as to Invoke Terror in Your PCs’ Hearts] River for a fun-filled weekend of games, uncommon familial attentions, and validation on Swampwatch Isle only to abandoned following a day in which the children truly feel loved for the first time in their short lives. Then in the night, while the children sleep pleasantly, cuddling their new wool sack dolls and Mando the Embezerked wooden action figures, the Meenlocks carry them off into their deep homes to at last be loved and nuzzled and praised and enzymatically transformed into the stumpy, furry, insectoid beasts. But for the first time to feel a part of a family.
3. Amagiogenesis. We all come to a point in our lives (usually about 13 or 14 for young American males) where the lonely spans of self-seclusion lead to…well, you know. And from that angst-borne spume is borne whole colonies of crusty lifeforms. So who’s to say the same cannot be said for nature herself? Is it not true that mice crop up as aggregations of moldy straw left too long in the barn? Is it not true that maggots are the motile agglomerate spawn of putrid week old horse stew? And do dwarves not pop up wholly formed and bearded from the cold, stoney and unsullied wombs of their mountain redoubts? So why should not magic likewise manifest itself in the form of life? There’s no reason why not. It’s magic, by gods. So meenlocks are such critters.
4. It Fell from Spaaaace!!! These meenlocks are actually beings from another world. About [insert appropriate span of time for past interplanetary ecological contamination], the meenlocks escaped from the smouldering and glowing wreckage of a starship that crashed in the Great Swamp to the [pick a direction]. The starship was an interstellar zoo which had crashed as a result of an escape attempt by some of its exhibits. As the ship entered the atmosphere of [your awesomely original homebrewed setting or cookie-cutter premade setting], whole chunks and segments of the ship, which contained habitats for numerous (however many floats your boat) alien lifeforms, broke off and scattered over the countryside. After the crash, the meenlocks slunk out of their wrecked habitat and found their way to Swampwatch Isle where they live today, seeking to assimilate more humanoid life and slowly take over the region, or quite possibly the entire planet!