There are fools who think that upon spotting a Salwar that they are seeing naught but an overlarge walrus. This illusion is dispelled when one comes close enough to see the beast’s eyes, which speak of both malicious intelligence, and unfathomed madness. As large as four yards in length, and as weighing as much as five tons, they dwarf their walrus kin. In place of tusks, the salwar is armed with a maw filled with fangs that would give a shark pause.
There are powers on Neyathis who are wholly hostile to humanity and the other younger races, for it was their world first. The Younger Gods seized the world and seeded it with their children and the elder gods, along with their followers, were pushed into the vast wilderness of the world.
One parting shot of the Elder Gods was the Salwar, who from time to time are awakend to wage war on the interlopers.At these times the Salwar awaken their full intellect and form herds to attack human ships and settlements.
Normally, they are a threat only to whales, seals and those few stalwart souls who venture into the chill seas of the south. When Winter extends its chill hand to the warmer latitudes, the range of the Salwar expands and they begin to threaten the sea-lanes of the more civilized lands, especially those of Stoneholt.
The Salwar have a deadly bite, and will use their great size to crush opponents. Their tough hide allied along with thick layers of blubber serve as excellent protection. They are powerful enough to burst from the water many feet into the air and onto the decks of ships. When Awakened they form crude plans to attack and are capable of simple but cunning ruses. Most frequently they simply tail a ship and at the dead of night - will all launch themselves onto the deck and attack. Other tactics include overpowering small vessels but leaving the crew alive and floundering, using them as bait to draw in would-be rescuers.
As they normally prey upon whales, they have excellent knowledge of their habits and so will occasionally herd whales to impede the movement of a larger ship, slowing it down long enough for a massive mob of Salwar to arrive and attack.
There are reports of Salwar which have been especially gifted with intelligence and magical talents which pose an even more dire threat, but these have not been confirmed. These exceptional Salwar possess magics that can control weather, most frequently by causing heavy fog.
Ships which frequent areas where these are common will seed their decks with oversized caltrops or other contrivances to injure boarding Salwar. Downward pointed spears mounted to the hull are also used to discourage attacks. For similar reasons, most ships will carry ‘Salwar Spears’ - 8’ spears with 4’ blades and a short crosspiece - essential oversized boar spears.
Societies which live in areas frequented by these creatures will often have dangerous, but necessary, salwar hunts and will also pay bounties on these fell beasts. Usually the lower-jaw is all that is needed to make the claim.
Salwar hide makes a great tough leather, and the ample supplies of blubber an excellent fuel. Their shark-like teeth are used as luck charms against bad luck at seas, and to manufacture arrowheads and similar small blades. Their meat is tough, but edible, though rarely is a full carcass brought back on a hunt.
Campaign Use/Plot Ideas
The Salwar are intended as a dangerous sea-monster, halfway between natural, real-world predators, and powerful, fantastic predators such as Dragons. They are heavy-hitting ambush hunters and will make the regions they inhabit very dangerous to travellers.
The beasts could occasionally be ‘domesticated’ by marine races, though when Awakened such compulsions would need to be magically reinforced. Merman lancers riding on the backs of Salwar war-beasts would be a formidable foe indeed. They also make excellent guardians for important aquatic sites.
They would be much in demand for societies which employ bloodsports, and a villain could have a Salwar pit in which to drop heros to their destruction.
Salwar could be a summoned beast used by Aquatic nature-priests or other Water-oriented priesthoods. In this case, their origin could be omitted.
A human or other being capable of transforming into such a terrible form would be threat indeed. Obviously the individual in question would already be physically imposing, and when triggered to transform would be a terrifying visage. Perhaps Ogres or Giants could have such a malady.
You’re gonna need a bigger boat
A fishing village is being terrorized by a mob of Salwar. The creatures have not yet attacked the settlement, but they have taken several small fishing vessels. No one survived the attacks, and only a few shredded remains were found. PCs may be contacted to help in a ‘shark hunt’ and be greatly surprised by what they find instead.
The Salwar are inspired by a similar beast, encountered by Conan..