'Ye've ne'er heard of the Shnickels? Ye must 'ave not grown up in yonder country. The Shnickels are pests. Varmints. They move in, and you're done, son.'
-Old Gerald, man in the pub.
Appearance:Â The Shnickels look like toads. They have a light brown base color, with light green spots. They also have short claws on their forelegs. Some have said that a solitary Shnickel looks innocent, almost.
Diet:Â They prefer wood, but can eat other plants, such as grass, common crops, mushrooms, and fungi. The average Shnickel has a very high metabolism, and is almost constantly eating. Tadpols will eat any plant life available to them.
Life Cycle:Â The Shnickel's egg hatches in a pond or river/stream in the early spring. The young Shnickel will start out as aÂ tadpole, and will grow arms and legs by the start of summer. During the summer, they generally move into surrounding areas in force. They prefer forests, because of their diet. Failing that, they will reluctantly take to the plains. During the early fall, the Shnickels move back to where they were first born, and mate. The mated couple will then burrow in the bank of the pond, with their recently grown claws, and stock it with food. Normally, one Shnickel will guard the nest while the other fetches food, for fear that rival Shnickels will steal their food. A day or two before the snows fall, the Shnickels will collapse the entrance, entombing them within, and begin hibernation. In the spring, they will dig themselves out, and go in search of food. Older Shnickels will, in the fall, move to another pond or water source, to spread the population. They usually die in 2-3 years after birth.
Behavior:Â To eat their favorite food, the Shnickels lick it. Their saliva secretes an acid that eats through the wood and turns it into a paste in seconds, which is then eaten by the Shnickel. In the years of evolution between the tree and the Shnickels, trees have developed a thick, anti-saliva bark protection. The Shnickel response to this is their small claws. The Shnickel will dig through the tree's bark. Once past, the tongue is inserted, and then the paste is sucked out. However, if a source of unprotected wood (read house) is discovered by one Shnickel, the rest will come in storm. A single house can be turned to paste in a day or two, depending on the size of the local Shnickel infestation. Once the house is gone, the Shnickels turn to the farm or garden that the country house usually has. The crops are then devoured. Though people are not harmed, they might find that at some point in the night, something ate their bed, and they are now on the ground.
Worth:Â There are generally three types of people who pay money for the killing of Shnickels: farmers, thieves, and assassins. Farmers, because they generally don't like some pest eating their house and their crops for dessert. Thieves, because Shnickel saliva, in large amounts, is great for silently breaking into houses. Assassins, because they are thieves who specialize in stealing lives. Though farmers can't usually pay very much for the killing of Shnickels, they can pay some, and they don't espieccally care what happens to the bodies, so two groups will pay for one deed. One Shnickel's worth of saliva (which comes out to around two ounces) will be bought by the local Thieve's Guild for 10 gold. Add to that that where there's one Shnickel there's usually a 100, and the clearing of a Shnickel infestation can come out to 1,000 gold (plus what the farmer has offered). A lot for one day's work. The only problems associated withe the selling of Shnickel's is that their corpses must be treated gently, or they will be crushes, and the saliva detroyed- combat ruins them, as does running, jumping, etc. They can withstand a cart ride, however, unless the road is filled with potholes.
The Wizard's Shnickel:Â A wizard was quietly doing magic in his country tower, when an innocent Shnickel wandered in. This Shnickel had the misfortune to be caught in a spell gone wrong, and was increased in size, to about five feet tall. The Shnickel's saliva also gained the power to turn stone and metal into yummy paste, too. And now this giant Shnickel is on a rampage in the nearest city (the wizard got permanently turned into a mosquito when the spell went wrong). Well, rampage is the wrong word. More like innocently eating its way through everyone's houses and buildings. And enter the PCs when they, quietly enjoying their drinks, when the roof is paste-ified, and some giant toad starts eating the pub.Â
The Shnickel's Secret:Â Startling new evidence points to a potential cure for whatever plague is running rampant through the world. The cure? Shnickel saliva. But the only problem was that directly before any hint of plague hit anyone's ears, people attempted to rid themselves of the annoying Shnickels. And so, the PCs have to search the world for the last remaining colony of Shnickels, while the world dies around them. Or, to make things even more fun, make the plague a zombie plague! Hurl Shnickels at Zombies to un-zombify the zombies.
The Covert Shnickel:Â The King of Nowhere is fed up with the King of Somewhere. And the King of Nowhere knows how to deal with that upstart. Shnickels. The kingdom of Somewhere is not the native land for Shnickels. And so the King of Nowhere has hired the PCs to smuggle living Shnickels across the border, to destroy the Somewhereian's economy. And then, the Nowhereians will strike. How will the PCs get the Shnickels across the border? Will the King of Nowhere betray them, so they can't sell the King of Somewhere the secret of killing Shnickels? Are the Shnickels going to die in this unfamiliar land? Find out in the Case of the Covert Shnickel: The Sneaky Shnickel Spy!
The Shnickel and the City:Â The Shnickels have discovered the wonders of the city life. For starters,Â unprotectedÂ wood as far as the eye can see. And no natural predators. And the sewer is simply perfect for growing kids in. But as residential sections are turned into food, the local mayor is... Displeased. And no one seems to want to get rid of it. The Thieves and the Assassins have put about that anyone that tries to get rid of this easily accesible source of Shnickel saliva willÂ tragicallyÂ commit suicide, while we clean our daggers at your funeral, if you get what I'm sayin'. And so the mayor needs the PCs to dodge thieves and assassins to stamp out the Shnickels in the Sewer.
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? Responses (13)-13
Just wondering about that saliva. Acids? Special enzyms? And what about the predators of the Snickel?
The saliva is an acid of sorts, as I put in there. The Shnickel's predators are pretty much anything that eats toads, from the everyday to monsters. The Shnickels possess no special characteristics that would make foxes, herons, snakes, etc., not want to eat them. Their predators are the normal creatures of the wood, not anything special.
Update: Added plot hook and added tadpol Shnickel's food
I really like this idea and it could work well in a campaign I'm running where the lines of good and evil are very blurred and perspective is the point. Especially considering that they are not even simply a nuisance and they do not seem to fight back which could make moral savvy pcs think about they're actions if they are just killing them.
I think these are interesting creatures, best used as a threat similar to locust plagues and the like.
How can you not love house-n-tree-eating toads named Schnikels??!! The writing is a little choppy, but they are fun!! I want to use them somehow :)
Best line: 'Some have said that a solitary Shnickel looks innocent, almost.'
Very useful sub.
Love them really. Cute, humorous, and naaaasty! The details stand out. The fact that trees have adopted to these pests over time, for example, has a nice ring of verisimilitude.